It was the late 1970s and I was dabbling with wearing a scarf on my head like Rhoda Morgenstern. I was into Dust in the Wind and Slip Slidin’ Away, but my older sister, my aunts and my mom were all caught up in the great Elvis impersonator craze of 1978. Try as they might they couldn’t bring Elvis back, but they sure had a great time trying.
We lived outside of St. Louis, which is - and I don’t know if you are aware of this – home to one of the best Elvis impersonators of all time. He played at area dinner theatres and theme parks and I’m pretty sure he still does, which is an obvious testament to his skill. The female members of my family ate this up like gooey butter cake on Easter Sunday.
I went along one night when he played at a dinner theatre near where we lived. I should have been the designated driver because I was of driving age and too young to drink, but this was long before we worried about such things. As I remember it, I went along for the dinner part of the dinner theatre.
The grownups were having a blast. I’m pretty sure Tom Collins and the Whiskey Sours were the warm-up act. None of them were feeling any pain by the time “Elvis” took the stage.
He was a consummate performer and managed to nail all of Elvis’s moves, including the sexy way he pulled his scarf off and tossed it to his adoring fans. The ladies in our group determined after the first scarf came off that by God, they were going to get one. My sister was especially anxious to get one. She took Elvis’s death particularly hard. My Aunt Cookie - never one to back down from a challenge - said to my sister, “Come on, Carol. I’ll go down there with you.” And off they went.
Well, once they got down there Aunt Cookie had a change of heart and they returned to the table unable to score. Now, my mom, Doris, was the older of the two sisters and she and my Aunt Cookie could have gone by the name “Double Trouble” (Elvis film, 1967).
“Don’t worry, Carol,” our dutiful mother said, pulling my Aunt Cookie along. “I’ll get you one of those damn scarfs.”
The rest of us followed their dissent from our table shouting encouragement as they made their way through the crowd of hot, messy women.
We cheered when we saw that they had gotten as far as the steps to the round revolving stage. Our Elvis was belting out Hound Dog and they were this close. It was incredible.
Then, all of a sudden to our complete amazement, we saw my mom and Aunt Cookie take to the stage. We couldn’t believe it. And by the looks on their faces they couldn’t either. They looked terrified. The stage was spinning around slowly, but spinning it was. They held onto each other for dear life, as if their seat restraints had just come off on the roller coaster.
It didn’t take long before a couple of security guards headed towards them. The guards waited for them to make it around again, while Mom and Aunt Cookie clung to each other until they could coordinate their footwork well enough to get off stage without falling.
Somehow they managed to climb off the musical merry-go-round, holding hands the whole time like a couple of second graders. The guards pointed them in the direction of our table and they made it back none the worse for wear and waving a white scarf over their heads. Thankfully, they didn’t come back empty handed this time. My sister kept that scarf for years.
I Googled Elvis impersonators the other day and found our man. In fact, there’s a picture taken right around the time we saw him. The caption reads, “Performs patented switch kick during karate moves.”
My favorite artists have always been Elvis and The Beatles and they still are. – Johnny Ramone