When Elvis Kissed Me

Elvis tribute artistI was invited to a luncheon today where Elvis was scheduled to appear, so of course I went. Elvis sang several songs, made a few self-deprecating jokes, and threw trinkets to the delighted audience. I was sitting right up front, and when he started to sing “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” he came and took my hand, looked me in the eyes, and sang to me. Then he kissed my hand and moved on.

For just that moment, I was young again, starry-eyed at the attention of an idol. The singer wasn’t Elvis, of course, but he is a celebrity in his own right — one of the top three Elvis tribute artists in the world. And I was never that young, never awed by the presence of stardom. But today, caught up in the fantasy, the moment seemed magical.

My only real experience with celebrity came when I was very young. A friend wanted to go to the airport to see the Beatles, and her mother would only let her go if I went too. (I was always the responsible one, which now seems a bit pathetic for such a little girl, but I didn’t know any other way to be. Still don’t.) I didn’t want to go, had no interest in the Beatles, didn’t want to be her chaperon, and didn’t want to deal with a taxicab (her mother, like mine, didn’t drive), but finally she hounded me into asking my mother. I agreed, knowing my mother would say no as she always did and I would be off the hook. To my shock and horror, my mother said yes. And I was stuck.

My mother always accused me of being naïve, but now I see that in many ways she was the naïf. She hadn’t a clue what “taking a taxi to see the Beatles at the airport” meant or else she would never have said yes. But I knew. At least I thought I did, but the reality was beyond my meager imagination.

Originally, the Beatles were to land at Stapleton International Airport, but when the crowds of onlookers grew to a horde, the landing was moved to Buckley Field. We stood outside the chain link fence, the press of kids keeping me immobile against that barrier between us and the icons. In the distance, I could hear first murmurs then shrieks from the crowd as the car drew near. It must have been a convertible, because I can clearly remember seeing Paul’s face before I was all but crushed between the fence and the frenzied crowd. I would have been pulled under, but luckily I kept a strong grip on the links. As the vehicle passed us, everyone ran after it but me. I stood immobile, terrified by the power of the mob. My friend (who wasn’t much of a friend, if you must know) ran with the crowd. And soon I was the only one left standing.

I have no idea how I got home that day. (At the time, obviously, I knew, but I’ve forgotten.) I imagine someone took pity on me and called my mother or my friend’s mother. (I was in a panic because I was responsible for the girl, and I’d lost her.) I know I took a cab back.

I have made a point of never being in a crowd again. Oh, my, such a wild, uncontrollable beast! (The crowd, not me.)

But today, there were only two or three dozen of us — no mob — and it was sweet, especially when Elvis kissed me.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, andDaughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

6 Responses to “When Elvis Kissed Me”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    Sounds like a wonderfully fun time.

  2. ROD MARSDEN Says:

    Yes. Those wonderful fun times are worth treasuring. I remember my trip up in a Tiger Moth. Now a Tiger Moth is a biplane but not one that flew into any battles during World War One or any war for that matter. It was too slow and was used as a trainer during WW2 and for barnstorming afterward. Even so it has an open cockpit and has a great view for both pilot and observer. I flew above my favorite fishing holes for all of twenty or so minutes. Being in a biplane rather than a conventional jet was a dream come true.

    It would have been nice if the Red Baron had turned up to contest the sky but I knew that wasn’t going to happen. Yet I have been told that in the skies over New Zealand there is a flying circus made up of Fokker Triplanes newly created but designed after The Red Baron’s circus, right down to the colorful paint jobs. Now being in the air in a Camel and photographing them in flight would really be something. Maybe I’ll get to do it some day.

    I’ve been reading Fire in the Sky of late about Australian airmen during the First World War. Pretty exciting stuff if you like aeroplanes (some early pilots objected to reducing aeroplane to simply plane as Americans are want to do today. In math a plane is a flat surface with no thickness. An aeroplane on the other hand has a pilot, sometimes an observer and flies!)

    As for Elvis, I know he was a great singer and his best songs will live on. Some of his movies, however, were awful. Some he didn’t want to make but he was under contract. At the same time I grew up on the songs of The Beatles but have a really tough time nowadays watching any of their films. I never got the chance to even glimpse The Beatles live but The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were more my generation than Elvis.

  3. Paula Kaye Says:

    I cannot imagine how scary that must have been to be in a crowd like that and lose your friend. Especially when you are the responsible one. I’ve always been the responsible one. I think I should break out one day and just do something irresponsible. Like kissing Elvis. Whoo who! Sounds like you had a good time

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      We do need to do something irresponsible. The problem is, irresponsibility has consequences, and we’re responsible enough to know that. Besides, if we sit and weigh the consequences, that shows responsiblity. I think we’re stuck.

  4. Kathy Says:

    Well, Pat, you know how much I loved this story! Woo hoo!


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