This is the last in my series of The Night I Met Elvis. I deviated from my usual theme of blogs, that of being a psychotherapist, my teachings, learnings and being a human in this ever-changing world of ours. Inner Child Work, grief and loss, relationships and life passages were the mainstream of my blogs. I thought this time I would share a personal story that might have some interest for my readers. Parts 1 & 2 have already been posted. The last of the series, Part three is below. I look forward to your feedback. Thank you for taking the time to read my stories.
My life changed that night; the night Elvis put his tongue in my ear while he serenaded me to one of his hit records, Till. I stayed frozen in disbelief wondering if it was real or if I was hallucinating. I carried those feelings of euphoria for days. The following morning, I received a phone call from Lamar, Elvis’ personal valet, who said that Elvis would like to see me again that evening. Bold and audacious, I told him that if Elvis wanted to see me, ask him to call me himself. It wasn’t five minutes before the phone rang and I heard the sensual sounds of his voice.
“Good morning, Joni. I hope you enjoyed your evening last evening.”
Too stunned to respond, I pretended to sneeze to find the words I wanted to say.
“Good morning.” That was all that came out of my mouth.
“How would you like to join me this evening? I am having a few friends over and would very much like you to be one of them.”
Still stumbling for words, I stayed silent for a few moments that felt like hours. “Yes, of course. I would love that”, or something to that nature.
I hung up the phone in the same state of disbelief I had the night before. I talked to Judi about a second invitation then shared the events of the night before with Harriet who was convinced, we had made up the whole story. I can’t recall the exact events that led up to that evening but I remember a car came for both Judi and I and once again we were delivered to the gates of Graceland with the same sense of wonder and curiosity we experienced just twenty-four hours before. Judi and I were wide eyed and bushy tailed as the gates opened once more to the kingdom of heaven!
The evening was much like the night before. His friends from the previous evening were there and we all went down to the basement again, but this time into the room with the billiards table and the dart board. There was laughter and teasing as his jacket was torn at the hem and we pointed out that he needed a seamstress or we would all chip in and buy him a new jacket. The evening faded into near morning and we drove back to Harriet’s home slipping quietly into our room for the remainder of the night.
I wrote a 14- page letter to my mother detailing the events of every moment since I stepped into the synagogue the first night we were there up until the last time I said goodbye to Elvis. I told her to give the letter to my high school best friend, Marsha, who was now a senior and told her to pass it around so others could share in our adventure. When I came home for the Christmas holidays, I was a celebrity among the kids who attended Miami Beach Sr. High School. Everyone wanted to hear more about my incredible experience.
When I returned to the University of Alabama following the Thanksgiving holiday, no one believed us. My sorority sisters thought we made the story up and treated us as if we had committed a crime. We were bullied and admonished by them, and my big sister, the president of the sorority, Lois, called me into her room and scolded me for making up such a ridiculous story. She had her hands behind her back and while stunned by her insults and calling me a liar, I was not aware of the punishment that followed. She had a handful of cold cream in the palm of her hand and spread it all across my face shouting liar, Iiar!
I was saddened to feel the castigation of my sorority sisters who stayed firm in their beliefs that we made up the story. Meanwhile the letter I wrote to my mother received the news with a much different response. They were so excited to see me when I returned home for the Christmas holidays that I was inundated with calls wanting to know more, never once doubting that it was made up.
When I returned to Alabama after the holidays, there in my post office box was a letter from Elvis. This was the evidence that I needed to prove my story, but more importantly, was the idea that not only did he write to me, but asked if I would join him in New Orleans where he would be filming King Creole. The letter brought tears to my eyes. Not only would I be vindicated, but to be invited to meet him where he was to be filming a movie, was beyond belief. I was thoroughly beside myself with joy that only an 18-year-old girl could ever imagine.
The envelope had his portrait where a return address would be. The stationary was bordered by several face shots of him all around the paper. Once more I was in a state of joy that lifted me into an altered state of consciousness. I called my parents to tell them the exciting news and what followed was perhaps the biggest disappointment of my life.
My father told me that if I were to go, her would disown me, stop paying for college and discontinue all financial support.
“Are you crazy?”, he shouted. “You are not to go or you will live to regret this for the rest of your life!”
Remember, it was 1957 and girls who cared about their reputation were still virgins.
He rambled on relentlessly, followed by slamming the phone down without giving me time to respond. So, you know how it ended. I didn’t go. In the fifties, we were obedient to our parents wishes and besides, I was too fearful of the consequences.
I left the University of Alabama after my freshman year. I completed my Bachelor’s degree at the University of Miami. About 6 months or more after I returned home with a mixed bag of emotions from my experience of my freshman year, a phone call unexpectedly arrived from Elvis. I had given him my phone number when I had to decline his offer to join him in New Orleans, never expecting to hear from him again.
“Hi. This is Elvis. I wanted to reach out to you to invite you to a benefit I am giving here in Miami Beach at the Fontainebleau Hotel. I am with several others, including Sammy Davis Jr. Can you join me?”
If ever there was a moment in time that I was speechless and in a state of awe, this was the moment. My cup runneth over! He called requesting I join him and I was engaged to be married to a man I had met in my senior year of high school. When I returned from Alabama, he proposed so I was wearing his mother’s 3 carat pear-shaped diamond ring on my left hand and torn between joining Elvis or betraying my betrothed. My guilt would not permit me to go. The marriage was annulled two 2 years later and once more I had been denied the opportunity of being with the King of rock n’ roll.
Looking back through a rear-view mirror, tells me it’s just as well. Things didn’t turn out too well for Priscella and either for the King. I have no regrets except that my father destroyed all the memorabilia, the photos and the hand-written letter from Elvis. I had given them to my parents for keepsake, never thinking that my father would destroy them.
The beauty of life is that no one can ever destroy the memories. As I wrote these three blogs, thankfully, the 65 years that past did not delete them from my mind. And thankfully, Judi is still alive to bear witness that this really happened!
PS. I wrote this story in my first book, THE MYTH OF THE MAIDEN: On Being a Woman that was released in 1995. It appeared on page 185. I don’t believe it is still in print.