Sunday, May 22, 2005

Heather has left the Building

I am a full fledged convert in the cult of academia. My analytical gaze is not sequestered to peer reviewed material. - its seeped into my daily existence. I suppose many of you would see this as a positive thing. It certainly offers new twists on reality, once only accessible by the copious consumption of hot knives. But I digress. This is about an Elvis impersonator after all. I left that experience realizing how entrenched my WASPish background really is. My best friend invited me to a birthday party last weekend. (I also realized how my fun factor has seriously degenerated over the years.) The party was at a bar in a stripmall the 'burbs. The featured talent - an Elvis impersonator. I was more interested in socializing and mingling - since being with my contemporaries is a rather auspicious event.

I need to back up here and mention that I have no context for Elvis. My parents were more into Queen and Donna Summer when I was a kid. I think the world in the mid-seventies was arbitrarily divided into two camps. Those who listened to Elvis. And those who did not. The only song I can admit to having any personal connection with is Blue Christmas. And the only reason being that my folks must have had a compliation Christmas album. I can, sing Bad Girl purely from memory, however.

Fast forward thirty years to a bar in a strip mall. The mobile sign announced "Elvis Live!" I arrived with my two WASPy companions and found a seat, near the front of the room. The room was dominated by two pool tables, (not in use) and a row of tables, with a narrow isle in- between. Elvis was settling up his sound equipment. There seemed to be an overabundance of wires and speakers for the size of the venue. (This was not Kiss afterall.) Elvis was frantically plugging in things all willynilly. I'm having casual conversation with my coworkers, with the looming awareness that Elvis would, at any time, interrupt my fun. There were a couple of unsuccessful soundchecks and a flustered and very embarassed Elvis admitted to not knowing the local equipement and decided to go home and get his own. There was cake and more lively chatter.

After more apologies, the lights were dimmed, and an Elvis circa 1965 began with an impressive rendition of Bobby Darin's "Beyond the Sea". Now let me admit that the only knowledge and appreciation I have for Bobby Darin comes from the Finding Nemo soundtrack. I realized that he was a Karaoke virtuoso. He could mimic any song of this era with such perfection that only a diehard fan could detect a forgery. I was quite impressed. He actually looked like Elvis, which I suppose helps when you are claiming to be an impersonator. He had the burns, the flipover bangs (which someone told me was a hair piece), pattened white loafers, a Dick Clark smile, and all the right pelvic shakes and twists.

Oh, there is one thing I forgot to mention. Elvis was interactive - Up close and personal. He jittered and twisted up and down the narrow aisle - going only as far as his mike leash would allow him. He wanted to flirt and sing to all the ladies in the audience. Did I mention there were at least 20 people in the audience, and that I was precariously near the front? Did I mention my WASPy background where personal space has rigid boundaries? I was told that Elvis would only pester me more until I gave him my attention. Oh no. No eye contact from this fish. And do you know what my trusted friends had the nerve to do? They found chairs behind the protective confines of the tables! There was going to be no Elvis shaking his "thang" for them! That meant there was even more empty space between me and the Elvis impersonator. (Mentally I was chanting - do not make eye not make eye contact...I I needed to make a run for it - I was in a cold sweat - there was no way that the fake Elvis was going to pretend flirt with me and gyrate in my general directon. I scanned the room...a few were dancing....I couldn't get up and leave...especially in the middle of his dreadfully long set. I could imagine tripping in the wires in the process of my getaway and the pelvic thrusting Elvis would have to help me back into my seat while seranading Jailhouse Rock...I was trapped. I faked engaging conversation. I ate stale peanuts and tried to look engrossed as I read a menu for a perogie as good as cod tongues and solomon grundy (I still haven't figured that one out).

This whole dance - Elvis's desperate cry for attention and my relentless defense of personal space - reminded me of the first time I was dragged to a male strip joint. I am not the screaming suburban housewife who relishes in suggestively inserting bills in his g-string. I decided that there are things that one needs to experience at least once in a lifetime. So I agreed to the experience, but I did not necessarily fit the role. So this almost naked dancer squeezed his very firm and toned glutes between me and a friend of mine. He was fishing for a lap dance. (I'd rather clean the grout in my shower). You know, I claim to be liberal minded and all, but I draw the line at men with nothing but a cheap square of polyester seperating our existence. Yes call me a prude. I don't judge the strippers. I don't find a moral high ground. Just leave me to my vacuous space. Elvis clearly needed to conqured this space.

So here I am, with Elvis so close, desperately trying not to attract any attention to my predicament. You know what the effect of this is don't you? It makes you stick out like a sore thumb. Oh the horror! Then Elvis announces that he is going to take a break and slip into his sequined jumpsuit and journey with us to the 70's - the fat drug addicted Elvis. As soon as he turned off his mike...thats right, you guessed it...I was outa there! I couldnt help but pity Elvis the impersonator, who I learned was a Youth Minister for a local Baptist church and came in 7th in an International Elvis competition. He had vocal talent. What made him want to whore himself out to Strip Mall bars in the burbs was beyond me. And having to deal with prudes such as myself must be so tough on the ego, don't you think?


Kim said...

Sounds fun! I have that personal space issue too. I had someone invade my space in the food court the other day. I thought she was setting me up so someone could steal my packages or my purse...or my kids.

All this time, I thought you were a wild one. Now, you're sounding mellow like me!

Litany said...

How funny! I would have done the same thing, only I would have run away even sooner. You were brave!