ELVIS' ODD LITTLE HABITS AND QUIRKS
1." It's Serious": He had a TELL (he'd have made a terrible poker player) when he was about to talk to me about something 'serious'. He turned his back to me if he was standing, or looked away if he were sitting next to me. Most of the time it occurred when he was asking me a question and feared my response.
2. Bouncy Ankles/Feet: I know that most of you know about his 'shaky left leg', but actually both his legs usually bounced when he was sitting and they were crossed. The top leg crossed over the other and his foot bounced from the ankle, so if I was sitting next to him I needed to be aware of it so that it didn't beat me up. They 'bounced' hard and fast. (Just occurred to me that this is another reason he'd have made a terrible poker player. No telling where the chips would end up).
3. Finger Rolls: Before a show he of course was more nervous... whether in a chair in the hotel waiting to leave for the auditorium or pacing backstage. (Like a caged tiger we all used to say). For shows he wore extra jewelry; If he wore rings on every finger, he'd jiggle his fingers in a rolling motion. This was not only out of nervousness . I prefer to call it "about- to-perform-excitability" which every performer has, but also to keep those heavy rings on his fingers in place. The bandages under each ring were a "must" to keep fans from pulling them off. Elvis actually got scratch marks which became inflamed and/or infected by fans' desperate attempts to remove them. (My own "TLC" necklace got yanked by a fan pretending to want an autograph during the first week I wore it, stretching the solid gold chain forever and removing the end clasp, while attempting to rip it from my neck as a souvenir. The back of my neck had a ligature mark for days. I wish they'd just asked if they could have it, ...but I wouldn't have given it to them anyway) .
4. The "Uh-Oh" Smile: At certain times he had a particularly infectious little twinkly-eyed-devilish smile that gave him that " I Am the Cat who just Ate the Canary" look. And yes,... when any of us noticed this one, we knew that something was up. Most likely one... or all of us were about to get "punked".
5. "IN-DEPTH STUDY" (an often used phrase): Whenever we were reading and discussing important topics he used the phrase, "I did an 'in-depth study' on this". And believe me! He had done a slew of "in-depth-studies" long before I met him. His I.Q. was extremely high for any person, much less a self-educated man. He read incessantly, and he had the most important quality any well-educated person should have...insatiable curiosity.
6. "What's This? A New Habit": At one point in time a few years into the seven, he began to make a "clock" sound after sentences. I can't begin to type this sound out. It was kind of like the tongue on the roof of the mouth that somehow created a "tok" sound,and yet it was created in the back of the throat. This he added to his "khee" gun- imitation sound with his index finger pointing as he emphasized something he was telling you. This habit disappeared after a short period of time. Most likely he'd heard someone else do it and just picked it up. I wondered about it, but did not ask where he "got it" as it was natural for any human being to pick up habits and language accents when exposed to them . John Wilkinson began this habit after hearing Elvis do it, but lost it after a week. This is how human beings learn language, acquire regional accents such as a particular southern state's accent (every state and region in the U.S. has a different one), expressions etc. It occurs more often in actors/actresses too, as they are prone to imitating anything naturally. Charlie, Elvis and I had more than one verbal exchange regarding our great difficulty making certain we did NOT respond to a person with an odd speech pattern. It could be quite embarrassing as the person one was responding to perhaps thought we were making fun of them. One just immediately "picks up" odd speech patterns so easily! I consciously 'blocked' myself from making this clocking, tocking, sound. Wouldn't be very attractive or ladylike and I knew if I started it...it would be a difficult habit to break.
This brings me to a habit that I did pick up from Elvis that is indelibly imprinted in my brain which has been impossible for me to ever break. I wish I could. It drives me insane! See Number 7 below.
7. "CHANGED REELS!" movie theater habit: Thank you, Allen Black, for reminding me of this! (All of you on FB have reminded me of things I'd never have recalled unless something you wrote hadn't jarred the recesses of my mind). Film was not digital in the 70's. It was "reel-to-reel". Every Single Time the "changed-reel" symbol came up in a movie in the upper right- hand corner...(it's a circular dot of pretty decent size), Elvis would chime out LOUDLY, "Changed Reels!" Then he counted... oh...four..five seconds...until the second circular symbol appears. Of course that was "noted" by Elvis also. If sitting next to him you got elbowed at least twice . Honestly, I had never noticed those before, and darn it...I wish I didn't notice them now. Even in digitally mastered movies of today, I can tell when they've mixed reel-to-reel film with the digital. Arrrrrrrgh! I often miss a line or two of the script because I'm waiting for the second circle! Yes, I sometimes curse... and laugh... at Elvis for this one. When I try to avoid seeing it and counting the seconds for the closing one, I find myself missing dialogue as I attempt to anticipate the dratted things, so I could make certain I wouldn't see them. This of course is ridiculous. Had to stop this one right away, as it would have become just another Link in the circular chain of this irritating habit. Then what would I do to break THIS one? You see...it could be endless, so I'd better just accept the fact that I will forever notice the "Changed Reels!" symbols. Oh Lord, I hope you don't "see them eternally after reading this!