My parents are at that age where they can just pick up and travel when ever they want, and now that there are no kids in the house, they do just that. My parents have been to some pretty cool places over the years, as a result. They may head off for Quincy, Illinois, to visit family, then jaunt over to Branson so my dad can indulge in his fishing. Other times, they just drive. Sometimes they send us pictures from the road, like that time they found a Bigfoot BBQ joint and had to take a picture for Zane. But most of the time, it's just the two of them. And for some reason, one day earlier in the decade, they decided to hit Graceland, the home of Elvis.
For those who weren't born at the time, Elvis was a big deal. I cannot even find a equivalent for how big a deal Elvis was. When he died, in 1977, the world mourned. Many people still see him at the local Piggly Wiggly grocery store, they're so convinced that such a man could not possibly be dead. Elvis was impossibly larger than life, and once he became famous, he was determined to build a nice house. What he got was Graceland, which, for the seventies, was the height of decorative sophistication.
If decorative sophistication was high on cocaine, that is. Elvis wasn't known for his interior decorating skills. This was the seventies, the time of the avocado and gold color combination, shag carpeting, mirror tiles, and disco. It was all about loud and boisterous, not quiet and sedate. Elvis had the money to buy all the things, but he didn't always stop to think that maybe all the things wouldn't look good stuffed into one house.
My dad was on his cell phone with my sister-in-law that day, chatting. Denise asked how the tour of Graceland was going. My dad might have mentioned that the decor of Graceland was tacky, while he was walking around in Graceland.
I don't know if haunted houses are real, but I think they are. What I do know, based on my movie watching experience, is that you should be respectful of the deceased when you are in their house. After all, you're a guest in their home, whether they are living or dead. Come correct, as they say.
But no, my dad commented that Elvis' home was tacky, and the next thing my sister-in-law heard was a thump. She was starting to wonder what was going on, when my mom picked up the phone, and brought her up to speed.
"Bob fell down the stairs," she said. "He'll call you back."
As Jim and Denise and their family walked into meet Larry and I for lunch, Denise told us what we knew. And we all waited for my dad to call us back. What we did not know was that my dad was busy being bundled off to the ER, because he dislocated his shoulder when he fell down the stairs. It was my mother who finally called to let us know that; because my dad was likely doped up on pain medication, and also a bit embarrassed. When I finally got to talk to him about it, he seemed a little chagrined, and I had to give him a hard time.
"Dad, you don't talk smack about Elvis in his own house! You're lucky that he only pushed you down the stairs." I was happy that he was okay, but it was really hard not to laugh at the situation. So we did. My father had gotten the attention of Elvis, I joked, although certainly not the attention that he might have wanted.
A ghostly autograph would have sufficed to get the point across.
Update: My father insists now that he commented that he never knew that Elvis
played handball as he and my mother passed by the Graceland handball
court. That is not how I, or Larry, remember it. I don't believe that Elvis would care about whether or not my dad knew about handball. Elvis, as well as his Mama, would care deeply if someone thought that their house wasn't up to snuff. It's a Southern thing. My mom, ever the pragmatist, merely stated that my father should know better than to try to negotiate stairs while talking on the phone.