My intent is not to foster an uprising or offend anyone, but after decades of attempting to keep my close-to-the-vest secret from being discovered in fear of being labeled a weirdo; I have decided it is now time for me to let my freak-flag fly and divulge this deep-seated personal angst I have been protecting for so long. Only the people closest to me are aware of my abnormality. Well, here goes…Elvis is not my guy. What?!? Yah, I said it. Elvis is not my guy. Wow, I feel better already.
I wanted to be an Elvis fan. I tried to be an Elvis fan. Certainly family, friends, acquaintances, and the entire planet are Elvis fans. For me it just was not meant to be. What is wrong with me? Well, that’s the big question of the day isn’t it? I guess when he was rising to King status, I was rather young, interested in so many other things beside Elvis. I just never hitched myself to the Elvis-mania wagon. People flocked to buy his records, see his movies, concerts, watch him whenever he made a television appearance, followed his every move while he was an enlisted man, gossiped about his young girlfriend, cried when he announced his engagement, bought a million magazines with pictures of the wedding, showered the world in glee at the announcement of his daughter’s birth, cried again when he divorced Priscilla, and bought anything and everything Elvis. Did any of you have an Elvis velvet painting? The whole Elvis phenomena skipped me like hopscotch. He is an entire industry in himself, even gaining financial strength posthumously. There are thousands of Elvis impersonators of every size, creed, nationality. His international ‘King’dom is as strong as ever. I’ve been to Graceland. That was 3 hours I can never get back. There I looked around the crowded capitalistic acreage and saw people taking pictures, paying hundreds more dollars for tickets for a private tour of the mansion, lines everywhere, people weeping at his graveside 35 years after his death as though he has just passed. I’m sure it’s just me; but come-on, people, you’re holding up the line! Ok, it’s just me; I get it.
It wasn’t just Elvis, it was the Beatles, pointed-toe cloth flat white tennis shoes, hair teased and piled to the sky, the British invasion, the Annette beach movies, just about anything that caught the world by storm, left me at home in my room chewing bubble gum, reading a book, playing my clarinet, hanging out with my best friend, Vicki, doing my chores like making my bed, keeping my room clean, taking turns setting the table, doing the dishes, mowing the lawn, and whatever other tasks were assigned. I was busy riding my bike to the country, swimming, going on family vacations, writing, drawing, woodburning, crafts, Girl Scouts, 4-H, church, catechism, homework, and being doggoned content with the sweet isolation and innocence of my small town environment. We weren’t in a complete cocoon, but my parents made sure my life was as safe, serene, and unencumbered by worry as possible. I was certainly aware of the world and much of what was happening out there. I found myself identifying with all plights and was certainly sympathetic and empathetic for whatever was their burden or sorrow. I would always try to put myself in that other person’s place and think about what it would be like if something like that happened to me. But in my youthful ignorance, it never occurred to me it was even remotely possible I would be faced with similar issues. These days, with all the media, 24-hour news, internet-connected devices, my biggest problem is to not be overcome by all of it, and to turn off and tune out occasionally. Watch Toy Story or Shrek again I tell myself. I now have a talent of immediately seeing danger or anticipating possible danger in every situation. Safety and security is always on my mind. Which, by the way, drives my family nuts.
I did , of course, have many things I liked and held my interest. We had family in Chicago we visited regularly, I adored Doris Day movies, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy Mysteries, saddle shoes, geometric A-line dresses in the 60’s, Tom Jones, and Carol King, St. Louis Cardinal baseball, Dallas Cowboys football, Star Wars, etc. I liked things, I liked people, I just never had that pop culture fanaticism about anything that seemed to grab other people and provide that often obsessive comradery connection.
To this day, I try to evaluate pop culture mania. I just naturally look at things from an often different or clinical perspective. My verbalization of these clinical observations are very often considered criticism or complaints. I am taken wrong all the time. I assure you I am mostly accepting of everything and everyone, from an albeit it introverted distance. What I am most dissatisfied with these days is customer service; but that is another writing altogether. There have been entertainers throughout time held to exalted status in society. Anytime you pin your star to someone else’s wagon, you have set yourself up for what will certainly be disappointment. Celebrities and politicians are just ordinary people with recognized gifts and a drive to succeed. They grew up just like the rest of us. They may have been that Science nerd in high school or a star athlete, but they managed to find the courage to go out in the world to find their place. We all have a gift or ability at something, it is just our job to figure out what it is. Some people are better at this than others, a/k/a me; I am terrible at it. Elvis, Paul McCartney, Jimmy Carter, Justin Beiber, Michael Jordan, Keith Urban, whoever, wherever are people who have figured out that tangible ‘thing’ for them while remaining intangible to us. That old adage, ‘If everyone could do it, then it wouldn’t be special.’ Do I like these incredible people? Do I think they have something special? Do I respect their product? Sure. Are they my guy? Um, no, but I’m sure it’s just me… Sandy