Oh Time, You Skankwhore

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Yesterday was the 34th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death.

I remember when I heard the news on the radio. I had to tell my mother, who was a huge Elvis fan. She was saddened, of course.

Years passed, and I ended up as production director for an Oldies station. Twice a year, on Elvis’ birthday and death anniversary, I was responsible for producing montages. I’d use sound bytes ABC Radio sent out–archived news reports, fan reactions, celebrity comments–and i’d get my own, calling different artists who’d known Elvis. I got to talk to Little Richard, Dion, Dick Clark, etc. Pretty sweet.

What dawned on me is this: Elvis died at age 42. In eight years, he will have been dead longer than he was alive.

The thought I had was how unexpected milestones arose during my journeys.

There are obvious, pre-programmed milestones, of course. At 16, we can drive; 18 we’re adults; 21 we can drink, etc. We have first kiss, first heartbreak, loss of virginity, marriage, kids…universal milestones that happen to us (or don’t) at different points en route.

What ended up seeming more significant were the soft milestones nobody mentions. When I turned 32, I was older than any non-celebrity Playboy Playmate. (Honestly, I think I was 20 the last time I bought a Playboy)

I remember breathing sighs of relief when I turned 28 and 34, because that put me past the 27 and 33 clubs. (Chris Farley, Keith Whitley, & John Belushi were 33 when they died)

In December, I will have lived here on my sandbar longer than I called my parents’ house home.

That one kind of struck me, though not too badly. I think it will hit me more profoundly when Elvis has been dead longer than he lived.

Elvis died when I was eleven. That’s really the point where I feel like I started running my life to some extent.

Ye gods, it wasn’t pretty. That was the year girls ceased to be cootie-riddled objects to be feared, and became suddenly alluring and mysterious. (That’s not changed a bit since then)

It’s an odd signpost in my life. I grew up listening to Elvis songs, and I was sad he died. I didn’t have that much invested in him. I hadn’t lived much. I was too smart for my own good. I knew God was in His Heaven, and I knew more about baseball and astronomy than any ten year-old should.

Since then, I’ve learned so much that I realize I don’t know crap about anything.

It’s funny how that happens. The more I learn, the less I realize I know. When I was a kid, I knew everything. Now?

Hah.

Along this journey, I have had some tremendous adventures, good and bad. I’ve developed skills I never learned in school. I’ve seen people be utterly  extraordinary, both in wisdom and stupidity, kindness and cruelty, courage and cowardice, love and hate.

I’ve seen fire, and I’ve seen rain. I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end. I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend…

Oh. Sorry. James Taylor moment.

Circa 1977 Tom would not believe the crap 2011 Tom has seen and done. The DorkFone upon which I’m writing this boring piece would have blown 1977 Tom’s mind.

Some things haven’t changed. I still think Babe Ruth is the greatest baseball player ever. I still get goosebumps from seeing NASA launches and beautiful night skies. I still love Thanksgiving, if only for my grandmother’s cornbread dressing recipe. I still love big 60’s & 70’s muscle cars, thunderstorms, reading, and red velvet cake.

And dammit, Elvis is still king. 

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6 Responses to “Oh Time, You Skankwhore”

  1. Skankwhore indeed. We were never big Elvis fans in New Jersey — growing up with a bizarre combination of Sinatra and Springsteen. Though I’ve grown to appreciate Presley’s sound much more in recent years.

    I wonder how his life would have been in a social-media linked world? Could he have been as much of a recluse?

    • Good question. Damned sure Babe Ruth wouldn’t have gotten away with as much mayhem with YouTube and TMZ lurking around every barstool.

      It is definitely a different world from back when The King was enjoying his last PB & banana sammich.

  2. Oh tom, I think you and steve are just kids still! Yes, it’s hard to watch the years spin off: but in 1977 I was still in college and very angry and disappointed with the way things were turning out for me (“I should be in Berkeley, not at this @#$% aggie school!”), so I became a punk rocker. I shrugged when Elvis died. Later I found out I used to bounce up and down in my carseat to Elvis when I was a baby, and then I felt sad.

    Also, in 1977 I never would have thought I’d be connecting with a radio DJ in Florida via this massive computer network called the internet. Or that I’d be keeping something called a blog, or playing video games with my kids (kids? where did they come from?). We don’t have starships yet, but what’s going on down here is just as interesting.

    Nice post, I like.

    • In 1977, I wanted to do what I ended up doing from 93 to 95. Also, I wanted to see boobies before I died. 😉

      I think of the awe I felt every time I looked ENE, and saw that Apollo rocket or space shuttle climbing toward the heavens. I marvel at the technology. Then I look at my beat-to-hell DorkFone, and know that I watched the Juno launch live, right here in my hands.

      It’s not the same as being 7 or 8 for an Apollo launch, but it’s still amazing.

      Life is about finding new ways to be amazed. Or, in the immortal words of Human League, “Keep feeling fascination.” 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by, Professor Gozen.

  3. Ha! I agree with The Professor! You guys are just babies….:P

    I was in my internship for Medical Technology when The Pelvis died. I remember walking through the ER waiting room and hearing the news on tv.

    Yeah…I am really delighted to have been alive when all these changes have taken place. I was madly madly madly in love with Star Trek when I was 12. And now we have real life Communicators! 😀

  4. I’ve lived longer than Elvis but I don’t think I’ve lived harder. My dad loved him and he loved Bruce Lee. Velvet paintings of both of them in his living room (not together – that would have been made up and tacky). I don’t know anything. Not sure I ever thought I did but now I’m positive I don’t. Doesn’t stop be from being an opinionated crabass, though!

    Still love me a peanut butter and banana sammich.

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