Friday, December 29, 2006


We had an interesting experience at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis.

I had a lot of bags in the hotel room. Not the bag with my toothbrush or clean socks, but a lot of other bags. A confusing number of bags. In the morning, not long after waking up, my dad asked about a set of bags in the entryway. Are these your bags too? I looked at the unfamiliar black bags. Nope, not mine. My dad said, "I thought I heard someone in our room last night but I figured I was imagining things. and went back to sleep."

He wasn't dreaming. The bag fairy paid a visit and left us a present. That will teach us to not double-bolt the door.

After a phone call to the front desk, a bell-hop came and took the mystery bags away. Someone had made a mistake in the night, delivering them to the wrong darkened room. Some man will be happy his bags finally turned up after all.

We reloaded the car with all of the bags that belonged to us and headed to Graceland. Getting there as it opens on a cold winter morning is probably the best plan of attack. There were no lines. The giftshop didn't yet smell of stale smoke. We could wander the house with our audio guides without bumping into people. By the time we filed out, the lines to get to the shuttle bus were a couple hundred people deep and the enormous parking lot was filling up.

Two things surprised me about Graceland.

One thing shouldn't have surprised me at all. The house is small. Everybody says that. "It looks so small!" and knowing ahead of time that everyone has that reaction does not prevent the shock of it looking small. Smaller than expected small. As an informative free pamphlet from the information center points out, "Most kings have a castle, Elvis had a home."

The other thing that surprised me was Elvis' taste. He liked things that were gaudy and trendy. That's not surprising. But poor quality was not something I was expecting. The carved furniture was badly carved. Shockingly so. Some of Elvis' belongings looked like the kind of furniture the Special Man sells with no money down at Frankie and Johnny's Furniture on St. Claude Ave. in New Orleans. It made me feel sad for Elvis. He probably paid somebody a lot of money for some very second-rate furniture.


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