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A Visit with
the King

by Chris Minnick


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Elvis is 60. According to the official record, The King died seventeen years and five months ago. Of course, many believe that he is still alive, and that he faked his death. In the spirit of modern trash journalism, my sister and I decided to make a pilgrimage to Graceland over the holidays and find out for ourselves. The trip began on December 26th, and what follows is my journal of our adventure.

1:02 P.M. Tuesday, December 27

Yesterday we drove until midnight and stayed in Nashville. We ate at two Wafflehouses, one in southern Ohio, and one just north of Nashville. Waffle House is a wonderful thing. I had never been to one of these before yesterday. Apparently it's a southern thing. On the menu, they advertise that they know something like 188,000 different ways to serve waffles. Sometime this week, I'll have to ask one of the waitresses to list them.

At the gas station in Kentucky, a woman asked where were headed and I told her "south". I decided it would be best to be secretive about our mission. We stayed at the Econolodge, next to the Wafflehouse. Two very frightening southern boys were working the night shift. One was very friendly, the other, with his hair greased back and a psychopathic look on his face, just kept lighting the grease on the grill and laughing a horrible laugh. After dinner, we went back to the motel, drank Miller, ate pickle potato chips and watched "The Girl Can't Help it". Everyone here says "Ya'll".

Today, we are driving to Memphis. We are on I - 40, about sixty miles away now. We've seen a couple billboards for Graceland and I'm starting to get a strange feeling. I've been thinking about Elvis and listening to a tape of him. I'm feeling an intense reverence for the man. I find myself studying every picture of him, looking for clues. I wonder if he could really be alive. I'd like to ask him what makes people feel this way when they get near Graceland.

2:00 A.M. Wednesday, December 28

We arrived in Memphis at 2:30, and checked into the Admiral Benbow Inn on Union St. The first room they gave us hadn't been cleaned. There were condom wrappers on the floor with Budweiser bottles, stains on both beds, and the place smelled like urine. We got a new room, with landscape paintings of nothing on the wall, the toilet makes horrible noises (Whooomp! Growl...Bang!) It smells like a retirement home. We've seen only two roaches so far.

We walked down Union shortly after checking in to the Admiral Bimbo. I imagined Elvis walking on the same sidewalk as we approached Sun Studio. Our tour was guided by a Polish man who had been in the country for a year and a half. He knew the script well, and we got to hear tapes of ten second clips of the most famous people who recorded there. The last song was U2. That was upsetting. After Sun Studio, we walked down to this hotel (The Peabody) where they have ducks who swim in the fountain, then we went to Beale street, and ate at B.B. Kings Blues Cafe. After dinner we walked around aimlessly for four hours. We couldn't get to the damn Mississippi because of all the walls and fences. I think the government built those walls to keep us from seeing something that would verify that Elvis is still alive. We took a cab back to the motel, and drank beer.

12:30 A.M. Thursday, December 29

Only nine more days till Elvis' birthday. It's unfortunate that I won't be here for it. I'm sure that he will come out of hiding. I know where he is now. Today we drove down Elvis Presley Blvd. to Graceland, spent a ton of money on tickets for the mansion tour and the car museum. After a two hour wait, we finally boarded the shuttle bus that took us across the street from the parking lot and the souvenir shops to Graceland. It was extremely evident that Elvis still lives there. No one is allowed to see the second floor, where Elvis' bedroom and office are. This is obviously because he still lives there. Graceland is much smaller than I had expected. I kinda felt sorry for Elvis, with all those people walking through his house all day. I suppose he probably just sleeps through it, and comes out at night to watch his three TVs and play billiards. The strange thing that I noticed is that there doesn't seem to be a bathroom or a kitchen in Graceland. The bathroom must be upstairs, but the apparent lack of a kitchen makes me believe that there must be a pizza delivery boy in Memphis who has seen Elvis, and maybe even sees him every day.

When we got to the garden in which Elvis is buried along with his parents and some other relatives, I found it really difficult to look sad or even reverent. First of all, there were just too many people standing around looking meditative, and secondly, Elvis' middle name is spelled wrong on his tombstone. I know that this is common knowledge, but this misspelling really puzzled me. If I were carving Elvis' tombstone, I would be very careful not to make a mistake. I'd think that it would be very hard to make a mistake when carving anyone's tombstone, it's not like typing. Anyway, the guy who carved the tombstone must have had orders to make this mistake in order to tell the people who care that Elvis will be back. After the tour, we marveled at the amount of really expensive, and really stupid Graceland souvenirs. Why the hell would anyone need a thimble with Elvis' picture on it? I don't even know anyone who owns a normal thimble. After Graceland we went to a casino in Mississippi and I won $100 dollars on a slot machine - a sign from the gods. We blew it all an hour later on dozens of oysters and beers back in Memphis.

11:00 P.M. Thursday, December 29

We started driving back today, and stopped in Nashville. Earlier in the trip, I wanted to go to the Country Music Hall of Fame to see Elvis' gold Cadillac, but tickets are $15, and I already feel like I've been ripped off way too many times in the last few days. Nashville makes me nervous. We went to a greasy country bar near our Hotel for dinner tonight, Gabe's Lounge. The one thing I've noticed about people here, is that these country music people are much more friendly to strangers and weirdos than most people in the north, especially northern country folk.

Tomorrow, we're going to drive all day, probably eat at another Wafflehouse. I'm getting tired of Wafflehouse and I'm getting tired of thinking about Elvis. I know now that he is definitely still alive, but I really don't care. He's a sixty year old fat man, who is probably bald, drunk off his ass, and losing his teeth while wearing gaudy jumpsuits.

 

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