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Not Memphis

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Old 08-16-2017, 08:22 PM
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Default Not Memphis


I put on my blue suede shoes
and boarded the plane
stepped down in the land of the Delta Blues
In the middle of the pouring rain – Marc Cohn

40 years today Elvis Presley passed on. 8-16-1977. On this day each other year I think of Tish. And a walk that was like the walk in Memphis.

I had a girlfriend, Tish (at that age a female friend, not a “girlfriend”) who along with her mom (Noreen) and stepdad (J.D.) that were terribly broken up by this. I didn’t get it at the time, that took several more years. I’m still not affected by the passing of pop stars, but damn, he was different….

Tish was just okay looks wise – thinking back she probably really bloomed in high school. I wish I could have seen here later. Noreen was the first time I looked at a mom of a friend and thought “hot!”…. A lanky redhead that wore Daisy Dukes before Daisy popularized them, the step dad perpetually amused that I was always over and paying attention when he’d work on his Harley. He stayed amused when Noreen drug a fingernail under my preteen chin, blew my hair out of my eyes with a Pall Mall fog and told me that if she circled back around in another four or five years, maybe she could show me something.

I was emotionally clueless then. Yeah, yeah, now too. The morning after, as I ran my summer paper route at a nearby campground I saw a lot of people in mourning. If the folks that camped all summer were sad, I should have expected things at Trish’s to be worse.

Except I didn’t expect that. I got done with my route, checked in with Mom and made the rounds at friends’ houses and wound up at Tish’s. She didn’t even come to the door. Just yelled for me to come on in. I stared just a bit at Noreen – she was trashy hot that morning, rumpled red hair, bottle in hand and wearing one of J.D.’s checkered shirt, shirt only and unbuttoned.

“Ma aint fit for company today, Elvis died.”

“Yeah, I Know, a bunch at the campground were fussing about it.”

“You aint sad Elvis passed?”

I just looked at her. Elvis barely touched my orbit of things then.

“Take me on a walk around town,” Trish told me.

“Do you want to come with us, Noreen?” Besides being the first mom I noticed as hot, she and JD were the first parents that I called by their first names, and without any fear of reprisal. I called Noreen Mrs. Lee one day and was told “I know you’re being respectful, sweetie, but that bastard Jefferson Davis Lee won’t marry me so I’m Noreen and he’s just J.D. Got it?”

“I’m trashed, and I’d have to put on panties and a bra and button this shirt, honey. You just be nice to my Tish.”

Tish was a bold thing, taking my hand and not relinquishing it. She made sure that everyone knew she and Noreen were grieving over Elvis, and then telling them I was her shoulder to lean on that day.

She timed it so we’d wind up at my house for lunch. My mom was known as a stern German Battle ax filled with charity. She’d tell people where they stood, and then say bring them in and say nothing further and feed them. This included my friends, sometimes my enemies, and the occasional bum or hobo.

“What’s wrong, Tish?” my mom asked.

“Elvis died,” Tish sniffed.

“I heard he fell off…” Mom trailed off as I gave her the finger in front of mouth silent signal. “Well, he gave a lot of people joy with his Gospel music.” I walked Tish home after lunch and she gave me a peck on the lips.

“You think Noreen could give me a kiss?”

“Don’t be a jerk, you were being my rock for so long. Don’t leave me with a bad thought.”

Tish and her mom opened my eyes, and how different my life was. They were there about a year and then gone, no goodbyes, no forwarding address, no idea where they went. That began a point in my life where I started to have friends that would move in, be there a year or two and then leave – mostly without a trace. I quickly learned to recognize who moved in to stay, and who would be a transient figure in my life. I never liked the transient friends less, I made the most of what I had with them, knowing when they went I would never see them again.

This period also marked the time in my life when outside of school hard labor was juxtaposed against an ethereal Huck Finn existence.

Was I in a sense set free by Elvis dying and buddying up with a hillbilly girl and her more hillbilly mom? Or was it just a mile marker on the section of the road of my life? I know better than to entangle that.

So tonight, mentally I’ll slip on my blue suede shoes….


Now on to Marc https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTVbf44HMkY


Last edited by Mohican; 08-17-2017 at 01:24 PM..
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