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Reflections February 2014

Agelessly Yours

Elvis Straightened My Eyelashes

By Karen White-Walker

Come Monday morning, after Elvis appeared on Ed's show, the newspapers reported that the cameras only showed the singer from the waist up, a decent exposure and my Mom and Dad looked so remorseful you would have thought somebody had died.

1950s. We came of age on the swivel of his hips and that sexy sneer that was supposed to break down all our defenses of remaining pure and innocent. Speaking from the pulpits were the religious zealots warning parents not to allow their young impressionable daughters to tune in to the Ed Sullivan Show. I could clearly see why. Ed Sullivan was a terribly unattractive man and the way he moved his mouth, it was enough to scare any young girl.

Oh, that wasn't it? Now it's coming back to me –  he was introducing a young performer whose nickname was Elvis “the pelvis,” and this “devil's advocate” was in danger of corrupting our morals. Back then parents believed everything the priests preached, so there would be no 13-inch black-and-white screen for me that evening.

I tell ya, if anybody ever tells you “those were the good ole days,” they sure weren't for Elvis fans forbidden to see his gyrations. Come Monday morning, after Elvis appeared on Ed's show, the newspapers reported that the cameras only showed the singer from the waist up, a decent exposure and my Mom and Dad looked so remorseful you would have thought somebody had died.

"Will you ever forgive us for not letting you watch him?" Mom tearfully sniffed.

"No, absolutely not, never!" I quickly replied.

"How can we ever make it up to you?" she tenderly asked.

I sensed that I had my mother right where I wanted her and for a 13 year old, that was a very heady feeling.

"You can't. Some things can never be undone," I dramatically responded.

Unfortunately my upper hand, snippy attitude dissolved my dad's remorse — in a hurry! I didn't have him where I wanted him. "You better change your tone, young lady, or that Elvis character will NEVER be allowed in this house!"

Dad spoke as if the most popular person in the world, one who could just have his first name sprawled on an envelope and it would actually get to him, would someday personally enter into my life. Well...

1972. My parents eventually became Elvis fans, too, enjoying his beautiful mellow voice, believing that he wasn't a threat to anyone, and recognizing and appreciating a shy, humble, polite streak in his demeanor.

A giddy girl transforms into a woman when marriage, pregnancy and responsibilities knock her off her feet. She regresses for a moment when her parents present her with live concert Elvis tickets in their attempt to make retribution for not allowing her, 25 years ago, to see a certain Ed Sullivan Show.

My parents didn't realize when they purchased tickets in the orange section of the mammoth arena where Elvis was appearing, they were the worst in the house, so far up, my ears began popping and, being nine months pregnant, I couldn't handle my fear of heights, so I began stumbling down closer to land, mainly toward the ground floor. A policeman spotted my bloated belly, grabbed a folding chair, and there I was, SO close to the stage, to the star, to a dream deferred — until now.

"Remember, no jumping, screaming, fainting, or going into labor," the policeman weakly warned me.

"For a guy who's a symbol of law and order and who carries a gun, you kinda seem like you're in the wrong profession," I teasingly told him. Poor guy, he didn't have a sense of humor, as he mumbled something about swiping the chair right out from under me, and I think he would have if it wasn't for upstaging the star.

You'd have to be comatose not to have felt the excitement and electricity in the air when Elvis appeared. It was thrilling when he sang, but for him, it must have been a terribly thirsty job because he gestured for a glass of water and, after taking a few sips, he displayed his sense of humor by unexpectedly flinging the water over his shoulder and wham, dousing me, along with others, smack into our faces! It was more than a few sprinkles, enough to straighten my curled eyelashes. For a fleeting second, we both smiled, our eyes met and I'd like to believe the gaze lasted longer than it did.

To think, my parents worried about “from the waist down.” Trust me, it all begins from the neck up.

 

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