The Uncut Truth, Vol. 9

What Beth Saw in Me

When I was an adolescent, I was curious about Elvis Presley. I know a lot of things about Elvis – from his songs to his electrifying performances.

Beth, who was the wife of my stepfather’s longest client, was an Elvis super fanatic. If you went to Beth’s house, you would think that she worshipped Elvis Presley. She had lots of Elvis Presley merchandise, portrait clocks, records, etc. She even had a photo of her aside Elvis in Las Vegas. I don’t know how her husband, Earl, put up with her obsession, but she was a very lovable human being. Beth treated me as if I was her grandson. On top of showering me with gifts, hugs & kisses, and money, she would always tell me how special Elvis was, and that I was special, too.

At the time I didn’t quite understand what she meant, for I didn’t see any resemblance between the King of Rock & Roll and little ol’ me.

Over two decades later and the heartbreaking passing of Beth, I watched the new Elvis movie last weekend. “I have to watch it,” is what I said to my bunkie when I saw the movie list. He looked at me crazy, as if he was thinking: “Why is this Black/Hispanic dude from Richmond so excited about Elvis?” To put my bunkie’s confused expression to rest, I briefly explained the sentimental value of the movie and why it was a “must-see” for me. In addition to my gut telling me to watch it, it was also my way of remembering Beth.

Within minutes into the movie, I felt where it was going. The film’s narrative and concept was why my intuition told me to watch it. As I continued to watch Elvis’s road to fame, I saw a part of myself in him; it was the part of me that wants to be a hero, rooted in the trenches of my soul. Likewise how I want to be, Elvis wanted to be a hero for his family. That unexplained light Beth saw in her favorite singer – minus other possible attractions to him – was what I believe she saw in me. “You’re very special and handsome!” were Beth’s words following her short lectures or stories.

As the movie credits rolled up my TV screen, I understood what Beth may have saw in me. It was more than a special kid, trapped inside a cold world he so desperately wants to save; it was more so rhetorical questions of concern such as, “What will he do?” and “Will he serve and fulfill his purpose in life?”. Elvis Presley, for example, taught some of us (Americans) the art of blending two cultures to make a unique music genre. In his own unique way, Elvis exemplified how people from different ethical backgrounds can be incredible together. However, he never healed his childhood wounds, and it led to drug abuse and bad life decisions that made him a miserable slave of his own dream.

I realized where I’m at and where I want to go, and I have a lot of work to do in between now and then. If I don’t put in this necessary work, I won’t die a happy man.