Elvis and the White Buck Shoes

pat boone

I was only around for 14 years
When I got what you could consider…
My first job.

Never had waited on tables before
But that night I had found myself
In a giant coliseum normally reserved for rock stars
Elvis’s early 1970’s ghost wandering though it
In his blue jumpsuit
Tassels whipping off his arms
“Thank you….. thank you very much”
It was a place I knew well
From Garth Brooks to Aerosmith
To rodeo clowns and barrel racing
I stood at attention on the second deck
Looking out over an entire floor
Filled with hundreds of tables
With tiny ants darting everywhere
Serving tables
I must have made the walk a hundred times that night
From the floor to the back halls
Grabbing plates of food and glasses of tea

At the time Casey Kasem
Read heartfelt letters and introduced
Roxette, Simply Red and Bad English to me
Nearly every Sunday morning
When I wasn’t being taught to bust a move
I was emoting over eternal flames

But Elvis was sitting this night out
Everyone here tonight was there to see the one
Who had given Elvis a run for his money
The one who had made a fortune off of black artists
And taught white boys they could have soul as well

When rock and roll was deemed a danger to kids
He made it safe again
With his white buck shoes, perfectly combed hair and gleaming smile

But he was 40 years older than me
27 years removed from his last radio hit
Kasem didn’t talk about him anymore
But those who were diving into their chicken cacciatore
Had stars in their eyes
The spirit of youth coming back to life
Like a dormant fire that had found a tiny piece of kindling
He sang a few songs that didn’t match his age
He danced along to the numbers
Like a 50 year old teenager

My parents had talked about him
Ever since I was born
The teenage heartthrob
That was well into his 40’s before I was even born.

I walked down that back hall
With the walls painted white
But nearly gray from years of use
I could just imagine Elvis walking the hall
Running his hand down the wall
Making his way off the stage
A lone sweat drop falling from his brow

I passed the food warmers
The crowd got thicker
I lifted my backstage pass that hung around my neck
And presented it
The guy was big enough to block the door just by standing in it
He eyed it carefully then let me pass
I finally made it to a back room
I pushed open the door slowly
The room was packed
And in the center of the room
A group congregated around a rock star
I could only see shoes
I had been told to look for the shoes

I pressed through the crowd
He was having conversations
With what seemed like 4 people at once
He seemed to have had a lot of practice doing that
I stood quietly and observed
He was older looking than I had imagined
And while I could not name one song he had sang
I could tell everyone around him could

After a moments time
He glanced down at me
Offered his hand and flashed his teeth
I don’t remember what he said
But as quickly as he acknowledged me
He turned back to his 50 year old teenage fans
Lost once again in conversation
I backed out of the room slowly
Heading back down the hall
I again passed through the room full of food warmers
Where bustling servers with white aprons
Kept busy trying not to knock into each other
Elvis had not left the building
But he had waited quietly in the wings that night
And allowed the only guy who had ever given him a run for his money
A chance to breath
To be that kid again
The one who sang about how he almost lost his mind
Then sold my grandfather a Chrysler
While making an appearance in my Dad’s comic books
And smiling brightly on the poster above my Mom’s bed
But to me
Pat Boone was just the guy with the white buck shoes

Rules for Late Night Urination #56

father-and-son-playing-photograph-by-amcarlon1

Stumbling down the hall sleepily
The little boy needs a 2am release
Stumbling down the hall sleepily
Me, the father providing escort, does as well

We giggle in the dark
Affectionately enjoying being two
Alone
We are late night jokers
Midnight marauders
In a house full of sleeping bodies
Meeting in the dark house
As we have done many times
In his six years

But some late night decisions
Aren’t always thought out
Crossing streams
Making sword noises
In the dim glow of the night light
While wearing flip flops
May be one of them
Because it only results in misaimed guidance
And wet toes

But we laughed all the same
I carried him back to bed
His small hand patting my back
Lips against my cheek
My arms wrapped around his tiny frame
That trembles slightly
With hushed giggles
In this moment
I hope to break this rule again very soon