CONVERSATION, "YOU, TOO?" - PART 2
Up the two or three steps to the
doors of the suite's entrance he elatedly pulled me. He took a
left turn just beside the double front doors of the suite -- the
doors I hoped we were headed out of -- into a short hallway to
the left, leading to his private suite and living quarters. I
found myself now in a living room with a small blue velvet sofa,
dark wood scuplting its back and arms, facing a highly polished
mahogany coffee table, where he said, "Let's sit right here for
a minute before you go. I want to know all about
"Well, THAT would take longer than
just a minute, and it's getting late, so..." I was now becoming
a bit edgy, not really afraid of him, but feeling a bit anxious.
"I really need to go."
He half-laughed, shaking his head,
"Just... just for a minute?" I sat at the forward edge of the
sofa. You know... the way a person sits when just about to
leave. I recall this clearly because the edge of that small sofa
was very uncomfortable, and the wood framing the arm didn't
allow me to lean near it either... it was just uncomfortably
small, and not the type of sofa one could settle into.
He noticed that my eyes were not
continuing to look at his but for short glances, and they were
surveying the open area to my left, his bed... up on a pedestal,
fit for royalty with a canopy and drapes in vivid, lush,blues
and greens,held back and in place with braided material finished
"Uh! Please,... uh... please don't
worry, Kathy," he quietly attempted to assure me, to calm
me down, "I... uh... this is the only private area I have to
talk to you alone. The doors are open down the hall and I would
never, never want to do anything to harm you... I just want to
get to know you. I just want to talk to you.Talk to you...
alone... without any disturbances. Isn't that okay?"
Now!... I was concerned, but... I had spent years of my life
traveling as either just one woman with a group of men, or one
of few women with a group of men,so was no stranger to the
situation where the only place anyone could find on the road to
visit was in one's hotel room. However, I was very disturbed
about the confusion, the mix-up or miscommunication over what
any of this evening meant and was actually nervous, to say the
"Will you just sit here and talk to me for just a FEW MINUTES? I
know you need to go, and... but I just..."
I decided to take care of what I was upset about quickly, but as
politely as I could. Once I began expressing my mind, the words
just came out almost too quickly and I didn't stop to breathe.
"I need to leave.And... Look,
Elvis!... I had No
idea that this invitation had anything to do with being your
date!... that the entire
going to be here to socialize... and you
talked to John? You
asked his permission? No
one told me!
No one asked me anything!
Why didn't you
I was invited to a get-together! I don't know what made you
think that I was a date!? Oh,.. And you are obviously dating
even though you're married?" I
(This "getting-to-know you-as a-friend" business
... uh... was not off
to a good start. Looking back now, it was like jumping 100 ft.
off the edge of those famous cliffs in Acapulco, without knowing
how to swim, if...
if... you made it past the protruding rocks, and
then didn't disentigrate when you hit the waves below. This was NOT
going well... at all!)
"Look! I just thought... I had NO
IDEA that this
He then interrupted me with slowly repeating the
words, " I just ... want... to get to know you ... as a friend!
Please just sit here for a few minutes and talk to me? I'm
sorry, Kathy. Sorry for the confusion. I knew that you and John
were together a lot, and I wanted to find out how serious your
relationship was. I... I... I'm... not really good at this kind
of thing. You know... I'm actually kind of... well... I'm a
little afraid of you. I didn't know how to approach you. You
have this... this... invisible wall or aura around you...
this... "Hands off, don't touch"air about you!", he was
facing me with both hands moving back and forth in the air, with
a timid smile, a less-than-confident look on his face. His eyes
seemed to beg for an answer, but... silence here from me on
that one as I puzzled over what he'd just said, not even
beginning to understand him.
"What?" I was stunned and even more confused. "Do you mean I'm
not friendly? Was I rude to you at some point? I... I've always
been considered a people person, I've never been told I wasn't
friendly before. "He had succeeded in disarming me here, and I
wondered what on earth would make him be at all timid!
"NO,No, no! Kathy!... No!
You Are friendly.
That's not what I meant. I just know you are different from the
girls we see around here most of the time, you know? I know! I
could tell... you're a girl that... that... can't be messed
with. Most of the time the women we see are throwing themselves
at me, and... oh, dammit, don't you see? I didn't know exactly
how to get to know you, how to ask you? I guess when I walked in
the doors tonight, I just got a little carried away, thinking
that maybe if I hinted to you that I liked you... maybe... maybe
you liked me, too."
I hesitated a bit, but remember clearly the look in his eyes,
and his seemingly honest efforts to assure me that he only had
pure intentions, and I began to believe him. I also began to see
that he wasn't as sure of himself as I would have imagined. He
wasn't really insecure, but he did question himself enough to
wonder if a person he liked might like him too. This I believe
was a healthy quality, along with just being honest about how he
might have assumed a bit too much. This had been difficult for
him to say.
"Well,... Okay", I reluctantly agreed, but quickly inserted as
politely as I could, "but just for a few minutes".
I could tell then I was in no danger of being in serious trouble
here, and had made
it clear I was not comfortable with this night's events.
Our first conversation is quite clear to me because this
had definitely been a night of "firsts",several emotions
moments, so it is... and will be... forever indelibly
etched in memory as the beginning of a very new 'turn and twist'
in my life.
Fate had just stepped in and decided it would take me somewhere
"off the trail"... somewhere I never dreamed I'd ever be going,
off into a mysterious wilderness, where there was no trail to
follow outwardly... one was forced to go within ones-self and
new life that was completely "out of the Blue", was possibly
predestined, and I was about to need armor and a machete to cut
my small part of the way ahead for the next seven years, and
yes, even on past that... to this very day,obviously, as I write
this 43 years later.
First he asked about how I grew up, and I related that to him as
Kathy, her brother Brent, her sister Melody,
her mum Connie, her sister Christie Jo and her dad Bresee.
"I'm Greek-English, have two sisters and a
brother (Melody, Christie Jo, Brent) I was raised with my Greek
grandparents on my mother's side, with her brother Nicki, who
was a quadriplegic... cerebral palsy. He couldn't speak or sit
up, but his mind was perfect."
Elvis said, "Whoa! What was that like for you?"
"Some of my happiest moments as a child were singing songs in
Greek, French, or English to him, reading to him, and
deliberately leaving out a paragraph or chorus as my mother did,
forcing him to stiffen up and make a sound, then laugh as he
knew we were doing this deliberately. It was just a normal
situation for us all. He was loved, he loved us too, and I never
heard anyone... not anyone in my family ever, ever cry or say
anything that would lead me to believe there was something
"wrong"with Nicki... not once! Never a complaint about the
hardship, or anything, but how much happiness he gave us all!
That's weird, huh?"
Elvis laughed then smiled very sweetly, then said,"Not weird,
but unusual, and just exactly as it should have been."
I remember stopping there, but he quickly urged me on with,
Kathy, aged 16.
"I was born in Texarkana, but moved immediately
to and Lived in L.A. until I was seven... My father was a
professional singer working at MGM in all the grand musicals,
and L.A/San Francisco operas and light opera companies. Daddy
was a minister of music in Protestant churches, taught voice and
owned 3 record shops where I worked and listened to every genre
of music I could find time to sneak into a sound booth with. (I
remember noting that he did not ask if I listened to any of his
records. This was very much his nature, also, as I would learn
later. I really can't think of many entertainers--just a few--
who wouldn't have at least asked, "Did you ever hear my
recording of this or that?" Most--not all--but most would have
steered the conversation towards themselves.)
I have been a member of many different denominations, but grew
up learning to sing in church choirs. I love Sacred Music most
of all, especially oratorios, cantatas, and I was obsessed with the
human voice from
before I could remember... studied classical music and voice
from an early age.
Elvis excitedly asked, "Your Daddy was in those musicals, those
"Yes... Student Prince and The
Great Caruso films".
He chimed in, "When I was an usher in a movie theater I watched
Mario Lanza's films over and over again. I'd go into the
theater even when I wasn't on the clock just to hear him sing
and see those films!"
Now, that insight into Elvis surprised me greatly. I had
difficulty imagining him as a young teen-aged usher in a movie
theater, and was even more surprised that he really studied
Mario Lanza's voice and films. "Hmm..." I thought, and found
myself asking myself yet once again... "Who is this
man?" I would never have imagined he even was aware of who Lanza
He urged me to "Go on... I want to know..."
I decided it was time for him to tell me a bit about himself!
"But, I want to know a whole lot about You too, now. I wouldn't
have expected you to have an interest in Mario Lanza!" And then
I recalled and told him something that made him smile a smile
that lit up the room.
"You know, I did marvel at your recording of "It's Now or Never"
and I do remember thinking that there was much more to you than
I had thought before.Your voice had matured and you actually
sang as if you had begun to study classical vocal technique.
That was a powerful recording! Your voice surprised me on that
one." His smile made me very aware of... and reminded me that...
no matter how big a superstar, how large the image is... he or
she is human, and needs to hear what others think of his art,
his or her contributions to others. Not just "Oh,you're great!"
but one needs to hear from a person in some way that is
"Because my image... my commercial image... is different from
who I really am," he said with a type
of inner acceptance, then urging me to continue. (This is a
quality that Elvis had that I would learn over the course of the
next seven years was a very beautiful one. He sincerely was
interested in every single person, wanted to know all about
them,their lives... no matter who they were, no matter where
they came from.)
"Go on?" he said.
"More? That's really too much about me. What about You?" I
asked. But he wanted more, so I obliged him.
"I studied ballet with my Greek "Mommy", (who was a professional
ballerina, tap,and flamenco dancer) from the age of four, went
to an all black elementary school (though we lived in a white
neighborhood) until Iwas seven... then we moved to Texas. Elvis
listened intently. He was interested sincerely in what my
"So your first close friends were black too?" he asked. "I lived
in the projects, so had black friends, too. I don't understand
racism either, Kathy, though it's better now... it is far from
fixed. "(Keep in mind as you read this, that we had just been
through the racial wars on the streets of this nation, and had
only begun to make any progress at all regarding blacks and
whites and integration.)
I continued as he was silently waiting.
"Yes. And not once did any one of them ever mention that I was a
different color than they were... Never! Some neighbor said
something awful to my Mom when I brought my best friend home to
play, and we were each told that we were "different colors", and
could only play together at school. When my family moved to
Texas where racism was rampant I went into culture shock. Racism
in any part of the south is still so much worse than either
"Don't I know it!" he interjected.
"I studied piano, drums, but... that's enough about me! Who else
did you listen to?" I was very curious now about this
interesting artist, and about his curious personality... the
type of person I preferred to converse with actually. He
was clearly taking form now as a man who was curious and wanted
to expand his kno wledge of everything, who asked questions and
didn't stop looking for those answers.
(To be Continued)