Are you lonesome tonight,
do you miss me tonight?
I’m still feeling a little blue this morning. If you’re an Elvis fan, you know why. Thirty-seven years ago this past Saturday, the King moved on to that Great Show Room in the Sky. I sure do miss him. What a sexy man! Fat or thin, I don’t care. There was something about Elvis.
In 1977, Charlie and me had tickets to see Elvis in Portland. I could not believe he was actually coming to Maine. Boston maybe, but Portland? How could we not go? I mean, our first dance together as husband and wife, was to Elvis singing “All Shook Up.” The Portland concert was going to be our anniversary and Christmas present, all rolled into one. Was I excited? Oh Mister Man, I hardly slept for a week!
Then, the day before the concert, I’m working at the A&P, ringing out Mrs. St. Cyr, when Rita runs across the street from Smitty’s hardware where she was working. They always had a little transistor radio playing in the back there. She’s crying, “Ida! Ida! He’s dead! He’s dead!”
“Oh my God, honey! Who is?” I thought something had happened to one of her kids, she was so upset.
“Mon Dieu,” Mrs. St. Cyr cries, “The Pope? Pope Paul?”
“No, Elvis! He died today in Memphis!”
Mrs. St. Cyr looked a little miffed, but I got all numb inside. Anyone else, I would have thought they were joking, but Rita would never do something like that to me. I could tell by her face it was true. Elvis was gone.
I didn’t cry. I just finished bagging Mrs. St. Cyr’s groceries, walked out back, got my pocketbook and went home. I sat in the living room listening to “Elvis: A Legendary Performer, Volume 2”, hanging on the King’s every word. Still no tears. Not until Charlie come home. When he hugged me, I started sobbing like a baby. August 16, 1977. Elvis was just 42-years-old.
So every year on the anniversary of his death, rather than moping, the Women Who Run With the Moose have a party where we celebrate all things Elvis. The Husbands of the Women Who Run With the Moose pretend to tolerate this, but I know they understand. Elvis was a big part of all our lives when we were growing up. Besides, it gives them an excuse to hang out down to the Brew Ha Ha, drink beer and play darts.
This year, our Elvis night was held at Betty’s, and she had a Hawaiian theme going in honor of the King’s “Aloha from Hawaii” special. That’s the one where Elvis has on that tight, white jump suit cut low in the front with bell bottoms, a stand up collar and rhinestones all over. You know, the concert where he shows off some of his karate moves?
Us girls all dressed up tropical, though we skipped the grass skirts and coconut bras. As Shirley says, “We crossed that bridge a long time ago.” Betty always does it up real nice. She had taken a trip down to “Let’s Party” in Bangor, and got lots of cute decorations, including an inflatable palm tree, a set of little pineapple lights, plastic drinking glasses that looked just like coconuts and a lei for each of us. Elvis loved Hawaiian Punch apparently, so we drank diet Hawaiian Punch and rum.
Now, you’re probably thinking we had a luau, but no. We ate what we always eat on August 16th: Elvis’ favorite foods. Dot brought a bucket of fried chicken and Shirley made southern style sausage gravy over biscuits (talk about a heart attack on a plate). For vegetables, Celeste actually did collard greens cooked with ham hocks. Instead of sweet potato pie, Rita did her famous sweet potato bake with the miniature marshmallows on the top, which I know Elvis would have loved.
The King’s favorite dessert was Pound Cake. It’s hard to get really excited about that. So lately I’ve been making Chocolate Stuff from the Sweet Potato Queens’ Cookbook. If you have not tried Chocolate Stuff, you are missing something. Chocolate Stuff may not solve the world’s problems, but honey, you’ll forget about them while you’re eating this cake.
Yesterday, I did what I did thirty-seven years ago, and every August 17th since. In honor of the King, I made a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich for breakfast, then settled down in front of the tube. We saw “Blue Hawaii” Saturday night, and the “Aloha” special, of course. Yesterday, I watched “King Creole” and “Viva Las Vegas”. I rotate movies every year, but I always have to feast my eyes on the “1968 Comeback Special.” That’s the one where Elvis is dressed entirely in black with a leather jacket. He’s playing the guitar all intimate and that smile. Oh mister man, it just melts my heart!
I'm in love
I'm all shook up
Mm mm oh, oh, yeah, yeah!
I’m all shook up
That’s it for now. Catch you on the flip side!
Coming Up This Week:
August 19 Reading, Southwest Harbor Public Library, 5:30 p.m., Southwest Harbor, ME
Upcoming Shows & Book Events: Summer
September 4 Ida’s Havin’ a Yard Sale, ACT ONE Festival 2014, 8:00 p.m. Portsmouth, NH
September 5 Ida’s Havin’ a Yard Sale, ACT ONE Festival 2014, 2:00 p.m. Portsmouth, NH