All shook up

The summer of 1969 was Elvis Presley's opening night at what was then The International Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas. It was the first time he performed in public for more than nine years. According to a Newsweek article dated August 11, 1969, the showroom was filled with 2,200 seats two times per day during four weeks; total attendance reportedly topped 101,509, a new Las Vegas record. The gross receipts were $1,522,635 also a Las Vegas record.My husband made reservations six months in advance to be there for our seventh wedding anniversary; it was his anniversary gift to me. The orchestra played the powerful theme from 2001 Space Odyssey to a reverberating crescendo when Elvis finally made his highly anticipated appearance and took command of the stage, wearing a white jump-suit. The air seemed to fill with electrifying energy and euphoria as the audience stood and applauded with thunderous frenzy. My husband bribed a couple of waiters and a maitre'd to sit me up front center stage. I didn't sit for long. I rose and pressed my body up against the platform as some women from behind me rushed the stage when Elvis teasingly pulled his scarf off his neck to wipe his brow (which I now know contains his DNA) before offering it to his adoring fans. I raised and waved my hand to plea for the apprised scarf. I screamed out his name. He turned and looked right at me, giving me his trademark, upper lip curled smile, and said "Hold on honey, I'll get to you." One of his body guards pointed a flashlight beam on my burnt orange hot pants (shorts) and matching calypso blouse that I wore, that seemed to cue the lighting technician, because changing color lights washed over me repeatedly before panning the rest of the audience in the auditorium. Then a single large spot light followed Elvis as he moved nearer to me and knelt down on one knee directly in front of me. I was mesmerized by his sapphire-blue eyes as he sang "Love Me Tender." I was sure he was singing just to me. Slowly Elvis leaned foreword to slip his scarf over my head until it reached the back of my neck pulling me closer to him. I stood on my tip-toes, closed my eyes…then he kissed me on the lips softly and tenderly. Women shrilled fervently, but he chose me. I opened my eyes feeling a bit shook up and disorientated. All sounds seemed muffled before everything went dim and I fell to the ground. I vaguely heard someone say, "She's fainted, give her some room!" And I remember thinking, If only Elvis could give me mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. That was 40 years ago, yet the images of that magical time in my life are vibrant in the recesses of my mind; where I visit from time to time when I need a break from the doldrums and I'm once again feeling vital and all shook up. Writers' Workshop West, active since 1962, is open to anyone interested in writing fiction, non fiction, drama, and poetry. Meetings are held the third Tuesday of every month at 7:30 p.m. at the Downey High School library. For information, call (562) 862-3106

********** Published: August 21, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 18

NewsEric Pierce