My Dad, Elvis, and a Trip to Memphis: A Real-Life Fairytale

Gather round, children. I’m gonna tell you a scary story by the campfire tonight. Once upon a time, way back in the 1980s when men were hairy and women bought Aquanet by the gallons, a family decided to go on a vacation to Graceland, the home of Elvis. Elvis was indeed a King, The King of Rock ‘N Roll, and was loved by many women, especially Southern women, for his silky voice, his swivelly, scandalous hips and his love of pompadour hairstyles. Sadly, the vacation was a pilgrimage to Elvis’s graveside as well as his home, because The King died prematurely on his golden commode, because of his love of magic pills and peanut butter and banana sandwiches. God rest his soul.

So the family, Mom, Dad and three wild hellion girls, left their cozy little cottage on Highland Street to visit Elvis’s castle which was famous for its tasteful decor and many televisions. But alas, the family, though hard-working and upstanding citizens of the kingdom of Springdale, were poor in coin but rich in love for one another. And so, to err on the side of the thrifty, the Queen and King of the household deemed that the family, to save some gold, would camp in the great outdoors and experience the wild Memphis forest rather than stay in Ye Comfy Inn. And oh, the choice was made.

Don’t be afraid, dear children, when I tell you that the tent the family constructed was of shaky nature, and despite the Queen’s liberal spraying of the Deet perfume, the mosquitos of abnormal size dined on the little princesses all night. Despite the fact that the King had inflated swim rafts from The K-Mart Shoppe, the oldest princess in particular felt nothing but a hundred jabs of the stony Memphis soil underneath her unwashed head.

Although the King of the family had at one time been a policeman in the United States Air Force and was very manly and feared by many, the oldest princess was not reassured that the entire family would not be put to death by the countless caravans of rouges who commenced to participate in an illegal activity of drive-through shootings as the KOA Camp the family stayed in was in an area of town that was known to be inhabited by such ruffians. But the night flew quickly and the day dawned bright and new and the family, though slightly anemic and very ill-tempered, were not so worse for the wear.

Before the oldest princess knew it, there it was! The King’s mansion in all its glory! And although the family had to stand in a very long line for many sweat-inducing and hours of dehydration, they too had their turn to tour the fabulous palace of promise. The oldest princess was especially impressed with the King’s “Jungle Room” which encapsulated the understated decor of the 1970s and had apparently been the doom of many wenches of Loose Moral Values.

After taking pictures with King Elvis’s Pink Coach, the family dined at Ye Olde Soda Shoppe and this time, in spite of the King’s tight wallet, the whole family enjoyed a cool room at The Best Western Inn, and to the soothing sound of nearby gunshots, enjoyed a restful night’s sleep before heading home in their giant Ford station wagon with no air conditioning, their sunburned legs sticking merrily to the blue vinyl.

Tina Bausinger holds an MA in English and teaches high school in East Texas. She's published in multiple venues, including short stories, poetry, a novel, War Eagle Women, and a humorous look at parenting called Cold Coffee and Speed Limits: Encouragement for Mamas of Teens. Check out her blog at

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