Giving the Gift of Elvis
by Michael McGinnis
My life as an Elvis impersonator was short and took me by surprise, but was well received by those who caught the show. It all started a very few days before the end of school for the Christmas break. I am on the Village Council, and I was hoping that for the upcoming Christmas concert at the school the Village staff could put on a short entertainment.
The feeling amongst the students and staff at the school during the last couple weeks of classes before the holiday was quite uplifting — there was a Secret Santa program which was a great success. Many staff and students chose another person at random to do nice things for anonymously. As an ECKist I am aware of the importance of choosing to express positive, uplifting actions to those around me, and what better way, I thought, than doing something positive and uplifting at the Christmas concert for the whole town?
The only problem was — what to do? I decided to ask my colleagues who worked in the Village office or who were Village Councillors for help and advice. But time was short: what could we find to do, and whip into shape in two days? Then I got a phone call from the Town Manager — one of the Councillors had an idea: some of the Village people would get together with the two RCMP members to sing two Christmas songs. The first song was a simple adaptation of "Silver Bells" — a very tasteful, pleasant song for the holiday season. But the other song was an old Elvis Christmas song, and I was supposed to appear as the King, himself!
My reaction was dismay! This was going to be a lip synch routine — but I wanted to do my own singing! I didn't even particularly like Elvis — I wanted to do someone more mellow, more like the real me, say Bing Crosby or Perry Como. And I certainly didn't want to do anything with my hips in front of a couple of hundred people that I might see next day in the post office. I told the other people that I didn't feel comfortable with the Elvis idea and could they find something else. But they persisted with Elvis, and after I contemplated on the situation a little I had a different point of view. Perhaps I should be prepared to set aside my own ideas of what was right or what would work — be a little more open — and try to make this succeed. Divine Spirit has all kinds of ways to encourage us to take a more open view of ourselves and the ways we can give love to others. One of those ways is from the ideas and encouragement of people around you. If playing Elvis could be a way to show love to others, why not try it and see?
My reserve started to fade when I first got into the Elvis costume. Councillor Cooper had done a beautiful job of decorating an Elvis jumpsuit that would have been a joy to behold if not for the glare from the sparkles that made it a little dazzling to the eyes. Oh well, if I was going to be in it, I would be too busy to look at it. The old, still-familiar feeling of being on stage came back to me. I am sure that in a past life I was an actor. I still enjoy it — when the time is right! And when the tape recorder played the Elvis song, "Santa Claus is Back in Town" I left my regular personality temporarily behind and got into the new role for the duration — it was fun!!
At home, I practised the song several times and watched an Elvis video to see some of his famous moves on stage. The tape showed some of his performances from the fifties to the seventies — I found it very interesting that in his later years he moved his arms and hands more than anything else. I decided that I had more in common with the seventies Elvis than the fifties Elvis.
Finally, it was time to go on stage. We did the the "Silver Bells" adaptation, called "Silver Trails" in our regular clothes, then we had three minutes while the preschoolers performed to insert me into the Elvis costume. There was some nervous humor as my chorus slapped on my wig and used a charcoal stick to paint enormous muttonchop sideburns for the essential Elvis look. A pair of wraparound sunglasses completed "the look". When the curtain rose, the backup singers did great and we all enjoyed ourselves!
The Elvis episode had a spiritual lesson to it, as well as a funny side. I didn't realize that most people liked Elvis — or even someone dressed up as Elvis — more than I did. It was important to give people what they could relate to rather than what I preferred to do. Performing songs for the enjoyment of the community is a great way to share your joy and happiness with your friends and neighbours — a simple way to share your essential loving nature as Soul.