Karen arrived a day or so early, and in her spare time, along with her daughter Lynette and her friend Kim, she visited Graceland, the Home of the Kang.
There's Elvis on the gate. Aoo Aoo
I learned during this reunion that I have an actual really and truly personal relationship with Graceland.
While we were on our bus tour a couple of days after Lynette took this photo, Leta revealed a hithertofore closely-held family secret. It turns out this lovely Southern mansion named Graceland was built in the early 1950's by an obstetrician named Dr. James. And guess what? He's the doctor who delivered me into the world! And not just me, but Karen too! An incredible coincidence, isn't it? But that's just the beginning of the story.
See, it turns out that Dr. James hung photos of every baby he ever delivered on the walls of Graceland. He was just that kind of guy. And when he sold the mansion to Elvis Presley in the late 1950's, why the Kang just didn't have it in his heart to take down every single one of those cute little snapshots. He had to save one or two. So guess what? He left the pictures of little Karen and little Billy up there on his wall, wedged right between his gold records for "Hound Dog" and "All Shook Up." It's true! You do believe me, don't you? Stop looking at me like that!
Is this picture black and white? How'd that happen?
Anyway, to get back to the story, it turns out that whenever special guests like the Beatles or Bob Dylan or Richard Nixon visited Graceland, Elvis would always point out those cute baby pictures of Billy and Karen and the guests invariably would say, "awwww." This is true. Every word. I'm serious, stop looking at me like that!
Well, OK then, the part about the obstetrician who delivered Karen and me, Dr. James, selling Graceland to Elvis ... that part is true.
WAIT! STOP THE PRESSES!
Leta really did tell that story on the bus, the one about Dr. James the obstetrician selling Graceland to Elvis. But now she's had second thoughts. On 6-9-06 I received this email with the subject line "Bad News."
I have found out something that will change your story and I am VERY sorry. I remember we all thought the Kang's mansion was owned by Dr. James, but I have found out that it was a Dr. Moore. How we thought it was Dr. James I don't know, but evidently that is wrong. Sure did make a good tale though. Mother
Phooey. Karen and I are no longer famous. Oh well, back to the tour of the Home of the Kang.
People like to write their names on Graceland's perimeter fortifications.
"Blackbird, bye bye." Wait, that's the Beatles.
The Kang is dead. Long live the Kang.
So much sadder in black and white.
Tasteful stained glass
The Kang's final resting place. In black and white.
The Kang's very special outfits. In color.
The diving board of the Kang
The Kang was a Jaycee.
There's a letter signed by Richard Nixon making Elvis an honorary semi-sorta but not really and truly law enforcement officer of some sort. And the Kang looked upon the letter and he was pleased.
Elvis didn't just get his face painted on black velvet, he wore the stuff.
Baubles, bangles and beads. Aoo.
More classic fashions from Elvis's closet.
Elvis's army uniform is so old it has become blurry.
OK, let's get serious for a minute. Elvis Presley's collection of gold and platinum records is truly amazing. A tremendous accomplishment. This photo shows only the tip of the iceberg. No joke; the display is astounding.
Some of the Kang's outfits are astounding too, in their own way.
Graceland from the back yard.
The business office. That's Elvis's mama there beside him.
Tastefully appointed, don't you think?
Now we're getting to the tacky stuff.
And the scary stuff.
Aww. Are those pictures of little Billy and little Karen over there on the dresser? No? Hmmm. That was such a great story, too. Mother, are you sure the man who built Graceland with his own hands isn't the man whose hands delivered me into the world? Are you sure? You are? Phooey.
That's Elvis's wedding tux on the left and Priscilla's wedding dress on the right, and in the middle is the demon goddess who conducted the ceremony.
This is so bizarre I have no idea what to say about it.
Jewelry of the Kang
Up front is the Let's Pretend Nuclear Bomb Briefcase Elvis carried with him everywhere he went. Behind it is a tribute to the time Elvis dropped his black drawers in front of an astonished President Nixon.
That's Elvis's desk, and in the background is his 1972 personal computer.
Aoo. The jungle room.
After parties at the mansion, the Graceland staff always stood by at attention, ready to Hoover the mohair off the departing guests.
Just look at the green shag carpet and plywood paneling on the ceiling. Only the best for the Kang.
(Y'know, I have rotated this picture 360 degrees, a quarter turn at a time, and I can't make any sense of it. But I figure lights and smoke alarms belong on the ceiling, so this is where I stopped.)
This, on the other hand, is clearly a stone wall highlighted with plastic ferns and multicolored lights shining softly down upon a carpet of tasteful green shag.
Look! Over there in the mirror! That's Lynette, Karen and Kim!
Hard to tell from this angle, but I think that's Kim.
Elvis's pool room. So tastefully decorated.
But don't touch.
Elvis's bar. Don't touch that either.
There's a statue of the alien creature that snatched the Kang away from us lo those many years ago. It's true: Elvis was kidnapped by aliens. I read it in a supermarket tabloid.
The Kang watched lots of TV.
While the alien watched the Kang.
Stairs so narrow that the Kang was unable to reach the upper levels of Graceland.
The lovely, tastefully decorated dining room at Graceland.
I can feel the spirit of the Kang coming over me just looking at this.
This is the kitchen where the Kang prepared his final fried peanut butter, mayonnaise and banana sandwich.
And this is where he ate it.
And this is the room he passed through on his way to the great potty in the sky.
Brings a tear to my eye.
That's Karen's friend Kim and Karen, with their tourguide headsets that explained it all. Look at the thrilled expressions on their faces. They've just heard the Kang say, "Thankew verrmuch."