Day four of the roadtrip began with Jay running (healthy) while Heather and I circled Memphis in search of espresso (unhealthy). No one should be that happy to find a Starbucks, but there it is. We were thrilled.
We walked next door to Graceland and bought tickets for the Platinum Tour, which entitled us to see not only the estate, but also Elvis’ cars and airplanes and some other rooms full of tacky bedazzled crap (as if Graceland itself didn’t have enough of that already). I mean, so much Elvis we wanted to puke (except for Heather, who couldn’t get enough). Graceland sort of reminded me of the House on the Rock, only about ten times bigger. And it’s by no means palatial, it’s basically just your average larger suburban home with its own graveyard. Not only that, it’s in a shitty neighborhood full of pawn shops and those places that cash your paycheck in advance. What does that say about Elvis’ effect on property values? I don’t want to think about it.
Right before reached the gravesite, our audio tour herded us into a large room where all the glory that is/was Elvis culminated. The walls were covered in gold records, and mannequins sported the most glorious of his Liberace-esque jumpsuits. A huge monitor played his final concert, ‘Aloha from Hawaii’. At this point, I realized that I had already seen that concert no less than ten times since I had arrived in Memphis, not even 24 hours before. How was that possible? Everywhere we went, Fat Elvis was sweating and crooning at us in much-larger-than-lifesize. It was enough to give me nightmares.
Then we saw the gravesite. It’s not exactly proof that Elvis is dead, but it’s good enough for me.
We went to lunch, then to Sun Studios. The rockabilly hipsters running the place thought they were way too cool for the rest of us, so the lack of enthusiasm on the tour was kind of a drag. However, I did hold the microphone Elvis used, and I stood in a room where Johnny Cash once stood. Did you ever notice how un-Elvis the Man in Black is? It’s comforting in a way.
Funny thing is, there’s not that much to do in Memphis. As I already mentioned, Beale Street isn’t great. There’s only so much BBQ that a human being can consume, especially when you’re not that into BBQ. So we took the logical next step, which was to visit the world’s largest putt-putt. It was there that we met Jeff Manager.
That night around 10pm, while waiting for our food at Isaac Hayes’ restaurant (uh-huh, you know it) and watching old Prince videos on overhead monitors, Jay and Heather convinced me to go call Jeff Manager and ask him to find us a real bar in Memphis. So I did. Jeff said he’d meet us after work at 1am at this place called Metro, across the street from an abandoned Sears building. So, fine. We went back to the hotel for a while, at which point Jay decided to stay while we went out. Heather and I found the bar easily, tried to park safely away from the homeless people peeing on the Sears building, and went inside. The moment I stepped in the door, a big shirtless guy grabbed me and yelled, “dance with me!!” And that moment, Heather and I found ourselves at gay karaoke in Memphis.
We stayed until 3am, and had an awesome time. Jeff sang two songs, high-kicked, pranced, and did the splits while we sat with his friend and friend’s boyfriend and laughed and cheered him on. We heard stories of putt-putt drama and life in Memphis. I admit that I had a hometown moment singing along with Purple Rain. Afterwards, we drove back to the hotel and I climbed into bed while Heather showered. The last thing I remember before falling asleep was Jay asking, “You’re not going to sleep in your clothes, are you?”