Elvis' Kiss Answered Her Prayer

Elvis looked at her. He pointed at her. Then he walked across the stage toward her...

Posted in , Sep 5, 2013

Elvis Presley performing live

There it was, splashed across the front page of the newspaper: “Elvis Coming to Vegas!” It was the summer of 1970 and I was on break after my first year of teaching.

My friend Barb—a fellow teacher in New York—and I had just checked into our hotel room in Denver, Colorado, the starting point of our three-week Greyhound bus tour through the Western United States.

I’d been looking forward to this trip all year. But seeing Elvis perform live? My heart did somersaults. Now that was something I’d dreamed about nearly my whole life!

“Barb! Elvis Presley is doing a concert in Vegas in two weeks!”

“Yeah, so?” Barb said. “I’ve never really cared for him.”

I was shocked. Who didn’t love Elvis?

“He’s my favorite!” I exclaimed, grabbing a pen and rerouting our trip on the hotel memo pad. “Instead of going to Albuquerque, the Grand Canyon, L.A., San Francisco, Reno, Salt Lake City and back to Denver, let’s reverse the order and scoot to Vegas after L.A. Wouldn’t that be fun?”

Barb looked at me as if I’d lost my mind. “Oh, please, Barb,” I begged. “Just think about it.” Although I didn’t understand what there was to think about. I mean, this was Elvis. The King of Rock and Roll!

I’d been an Elvis fan for as long as I could remember. I wasn’t even sure how it started. Maybe it was when I was in grade school and an older cousin plastered Presley’s picture all over her closet door. Soon, everyone who knew me knew about my obsession.

When I was in high school, the girl who sat in front of me in homeroom brought me magazine clippings about Elvis. “I know you like him,” she said. Like was an understatement. His songs were catchy, his voice full of emotion, and his stage presence was magnetic—even on my grainy black-and- white TV.

More than all that, Elvis was everything I wasn’t: Bold. Confident. Extroverted. I was so shy that I got tongue-tied in groups. Sometimes I ducked into empty classrooms in school to avoid speaking to someone coming down the hall.

My shyness persisted in college. “You’ll never really make it as a teacher, Aline,” one professor told me. “You just don’t—how should I put this?—bubble enough.” Please, God, I’m begging you, I prayed. Help me to loosen up and learn to talk to people. Help me to not be so shy and self-conscious.

I managed to do all right in front of the classroom for a first-year teacher, but nothing like Elvis. He owned the stage. He looked like he was having the time of his life, swinging his hips before thousands of screaming fans.

How did he do it? And what about those girls in the audience? They’d mob the stage, crying and wailing, vying for his attention. I daydreamed about attending one of his concerts. I looked at the newspaper headline and sighed.

“All right,” Barb said, relenting. “If it means that much to you, let’s do it.” And that’s how we ended up on the Vegas-bound Greyhound, aka “the Gamblers’ Express.” We checked into our motel and got ready.

Glamorous Barb had a killer wardrobe. She dressed in minutes and looked terrific. I tried on half a dozen outfits before finally settling on a short-sleeved lavender dress I had made myself.

We took a cab to the International Hotel. “Going to see Elvis, huh?” the cabbie said.

“Yes!” I said. “I can hardly wait.”

“Well, I’ll tell you girls a secret,” he said. “Give the maître d’ a tip, and he’ll give you a better seat.”

I winced. I couldn’t imagine doing something so...bold.

The ticket line wound up a long ramp overlooking a maze of slot machines. Finally we reached the theater. The doors on the right read General Admission. The other doors were for Invited Guests Only.

The maître d’ led us through the doors on the right and up to the balcony. Way up. Our seats were so far from the stage we might as well have stayed in New York! I wanted to cry. This wasn’t what I had dreamed about.

Then I remembered our cabbie’s advice. Quickly, before I could feel self-conscious, I opened my purse and pulled out a ten-dollar bill.

“Do you have any better seats?” I asked.

The maître d’ feigned surprise. “What’s wrong with these?” Lord, help me out here.

“They’re too far away. We can’t see the stage.” My throat was dry and my hands shook, but I looked him straight in the eye. “The theater is full, miss,” he said. “This is all we have left.”

The place was packed. Still, that cabbie had sounded pretty sure. So I just stood there looking unhappy, the ten clutched in my fist. Please, Lord, I’m trying...

The man glanced at my money and led us back downstairs. Aha! It worked! Only the new seats were in the last row under the balcony. Still too far away.

“Nope,” I said. “These won’t do either.” My voice sounded so confident I almost didn’t recognize it.

The maître d’ sighed loudly. “Follow me,” he said, leading us through the Invited Guests doors. Then he marched us straight down the center aisle to a double row of linen-covered tables set perpendicular to the stage. I couldn’t believe it. These were the best seats in the house!

I gave him the ten just as the house lights dimmed.

A loud drumroll, then girls screamed and Elvis walked onstage. He wore a big-collared white jumpsuit with a wide macramé belt. A bandmate handed him a guitar, and he stepped up to the mike. He smiled that adorable crooked smile and began belting out “That’s All Right (Mama).”

My knees went weak. The hard-driving “Polk Salad Annie” made my heart dance, while “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” nearly tore it in two. This was even better than I had dreamed.

Fans tossed handkerchiefs and scarves for him to mop his brow with. Then Elvis announced that he was going to sing the title song from one of his movies. The orchestra struck up “Love Me Tender,” and girls mobbed the stage. Between bars, Elvis kissed them.

Barb and I stayed meekly in our seats. Suddenly Elvis was right there in front of us. Close enough to touch! Barb nudged me. “Stand up.”

Did I dare?

“Go on, Aline,” Barb said again. It’s now or never, I told myself.

Just as I rose from my chair a brazen blonde with a big bouffant plowed over me and jumped at Elvis. She flung her arms around his neck and kissed him hard on the mouth. Elvis peeled her off and straightened up. Was he leaving?

I was about to sink down into my seat again when he leaned forward and looked right into my eyes. “Stay there,” he whispered. “I’ll catch you on the way back.”

Now I was sure my heart was going to beat right out of my chest!

Elvis reached the far end of the stage as the song ended. I was the only girl left standing. He forgot me! Lord, why did you let me act like such a fool?

Just then, the orchestra launched into “Love Me Tender” again. Elvis walked over to me, knelt and took my hand. Right then and there Elvis Presley serenaded me in front of a thousand people. This time when he finished singing he leaned closer and kissed my cheek.

I guess you could say I was kissed by a king, thanks to the King of all kings. The one who made me shy, but gave me persistence in abundance. Enough to make even my wildest dreams come true.

Listen as Elvis sings "I Can't Stop Loving You" in 1970 at the International Hotel in Las Vegas!

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Tags: Courage,Dream
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