Friday, July 28, 2006

Turn Left on Memory Lane

In lieu of writing about adventures or dates or roadtrips, Roadchick is going to tell y'all a little story. It's actually a little bit of history, but that sounds so boring that Roadchick is calling it a story, instead.

This is the story of how Roadchick's blog came to be called "All-American Girl's Roadtrip"

Once upon a time, many, many years ago, Roadchick worked in a hotel. While working at the hotel, Roadchick had a very good friend called....well, in the interest of keeping private parties private, let's just call her Friendage. (Roadchick trusts that she will know who she is.)

Roadchick and Friendage found themselves in much the same situation that Roadchick and Best Friend found themselves in a few weeks ago EXCEPT the situations were reversed. Roadchick was the Smug Married and Friendage was the one that was needing to escape Nashville because she was not feelin' the love.

So, what to do? Roadchick and Friendage decided to go to Memphis. Far enough away to qualify as a roadtrip, close enough to not require plane fare. The best of both worlds. The itinerary was planned and a date was set. Saturday. To Memphis. One room reserved at the Holiday Inn Express in Tunica, MS. (Yes, Patient Reader, that was the extent of the itinerary.)

On the appointed morning, Roadchick and Friendage met up at the hotel. Rendezvous point, if you will. While plotti...err, planning, a long-term guest from Mexico overheard the conversation and asked what was going on.

"Going to Graceland."

He appeared very interested in this diversion and stood there looking hopeful. Well, Roadchick has a soft heart. Possibly soft in the head, but don't go there. Roadchick and Friendage looked at each other. There was agreement & Mexico Man was invited along for the ride. After all, a person can't possibly come all the way from Mexico, stay in the US for 8 months, and NOT see Graceland. Never mind that Roadchick had reached a grand age of approximately 30 years old without seeing it - that is NOT the point.

Mexico Man disappeared to his room for about 30 seconds and re-emerged with a backpack. For a weekend. In Memphis. Roadchick and Friendage had considerably more luggage than that. Looking back, it is best that he did not have more luggage - there wasn't room for it.

The first indicator that the three travelers might be in trouble was trying to fit three adults into a car designed to carry two adults and a monkey. Traveling by Saturn would be interesting. Mexico Man bravely sat in the back, Friendage was driving, and Roadchick was riding shotgun. With her seat pulled forward so Mexico Man would have room for his legs. Which meant that Roadchick did NOT have room for her legs. Remember this point. It's very important later in the story.

So. Onward.

Driving westward, it occured to Roadchick and Friendage that a bathroom break was in order. And snacks. And, look! an exit...for Bucksnort, TN. (Roadchick kids you not - check an atlas if you don't believe her.)

Roadchick travels through life mostly unencumbered by sayings and addages and tidbits of advice but there are times she has made exceptions to the rule.

It's NEVER a good idea to buy food from a bait shop, no matter how extensive the selection of Elvis memorabilia is.

After wandering, dazed, through Elvis keyrings and snowglobes and bottle openers and an entire SET of Elvis and Priscilla juice glasses, Roadchick approached the cash register.

"What ARE you doing???" Roadchick asked Friendage.

"What?" replied Friendage, looking at Roadchick as though she were the crazy one.

"What are you eating?"

"Ummm, just some of these pork rinds. They're giving away free samples." replied Friendage, waving an arm toward pork rinds dumped out ON A BAIT SHOP COUNTER with a sign that did indeed say: Free Samples
And possibly "Bust a Gut" or something similar. Roadchick could be wrong.

"So, you're saying that you are EATING pork rinds that are laying on a bait shop counter BECAUSE THEY ARE FREE?"

"They're bacon-flavored." As if that explained it.

Mexico Man watched all of this from a distance. Mexico Man, from Mexico, where tourists are told to not drink the water....DID NOT EAT THE FREE SAMPLES. This means something, Roadchick is sure.

Memphis. Still in the distance. Time to hit the road before happy hour started and the pork rinds kicked in.

Time spent in a car is a good time for discussions and memories and explanations so Roadchick and Friendage spent some of the time explaining American culture to Mexico Man. It reminded Roadchick of the scene in Breakfast at Tiffany's where the Brazilian diplomat, Jose de Silva-Perrera, visits Holly's apartment where a wild & swingin' party is taking place, and states: "Thank you for allowing me to observe life in a typical, American home."

Mexico Man listened intently and then christened the adventure: the Authentic, All-American Girls' Roadtrip.

And it was good.

America shuddered at the thought that Roadchick and Friendage were representing American culture as a typical example, but still - it was good.

Memphis drew closer. Roadchick turned to Friendage and asked: Where is your atlas?

Friendage looked at Roadchick.

"Didn't you bring one?"

(Obviously not.)

At that particular point in history, Roadchick had not spent any amount of time in Memphis. Neither had Friendage. And Mexico Man certainly had not.

Still, how hard could it be to find Graceland??? In Memphis. The home of the King of Rock and Roll. Surely there would be billboards, neon signs, and a golden line painted down the road to his front door. Wouldn't there? Well, no.

The timing of the trip had Roadchick and crew arriving in Memphis during a particularly busy time of road construction, the majority of which was centered at Elvis Presley Boulevard. And during this road construction, the workers found it necessary to take down all the exit ramp signs, billboards, and neon signs with arrows pointing to the King's home. Oh, and paint over the golden line in the road, too.

Roadchick, Friendage, and Mexico Man shot past the exit, chatting merrily the whole way. And wound up in Mississippi. Unless a visit to the King's birthplace in Tupelo was in order, new directions were in order.

The nice lady at the Welcome Center had heard the request a million bazillion times but still managed to be witty.

"Let me guess. You missed the exit because the sign is down, the neon is off, and the golden line has been painted over, right?" Nods all around. New directions were given. And this parting advice: "The King is home today, but he is resting so you probably won't see him."

Nonsense. If the King was in, he would want to see Roadchick and crew. After all, we were on the Authentic All-American Girls' Roadtrip.

Roadchick had always pictured Graceland in the middle of a beautiful, park-like setting with gently rolling hills. Roadchick was shocked to discover that Graceland is perched between the Heartbreak Hotel and a KFC.

KFC, Roadchick could understand. The King might get hungry. The Tiger Market and Quickie Car Wash threw her.

Friendage parked the car and Roadchick promptly fell out when she tried to untangle her legs. The entire episode was caught on tape by some Japanese tourists. There are probably copies on the Internet if you know where to look.

Mexico Man was laughing too hard to get out of the backseat. Friendage was collapsed on the hood of the car, wailing. Roadchick gathered the tattered shreds of her dignity, brushed off the seat of her jeans, and everyone headed inside.

The bargain price of $8.75 was the ticket of admission to the Shrine of Tacky. Roadchick was in heaven. Each guest is provided with a mini-headset and tape player for the "Guided Tour". Roadchick's tape player had dead batteries.

Inside Graceland, there are no living employees to assist you with these matters. Roadchick sucked it up and pretended she was deaf and Friendage obliged by explaining things in sign language. No, not real sign language. The tour through the house was all too short. Roadchick wants to LIVE in the Jungle Room.

The tour ends in the Garden. In the Garden is a Memorial Garden. And in the Memorial Garden, is the Eternal Flame of Elvis.

Roadchick was annoyed.

Friendage asked her what was wrong.

Roadchick explained that she came on the tour, fully expecting to see the place where the King of Rock and Roll mounted his throne for the last time.

Friendage gave Roadchick the look that is normally reserved for Very Dangerous People.

"You cannot possibly think that they were going to let you track through Elvis's bathroom."

And Roadchick held up her camera in evidence that she fully expected to be allowed to track through Elvis's bathroom and expected to take pictures as well.

Mexico Man had wandered away while this was going on and was gazing in wonder at the Japanese tourists from the parking lot. They were taking turns posing in front of the Eternal Flame of Elvis while pretending to light their cigarettes from the flame and videotaping the whole process.

It was time to go, before someone talked Roadchick into the same pose.

Roadchick, Friendage, and Mexico Man headed to Tunica. A word of warning. Make reservations. Roadchick and Friendage had reservations. Mexico Man did not. And on a Saturday night in Tunica, there are no rooms to be had. It was true - there was no room at the Holiday Inn.

Mexico Man had to bunk with Roadchick and Friendage. The room was divided up. Roadchick could not sleep. Mexico Man snored and was nearly smothered with a pillow. Everytime Roadchick would start to drop off, Friendage would start punching her pillow. And then, the pork rinds kicked in.

When going to Memphis, make reservations, NEVER, EVER eat pork rinds off a bait shop counter, and always pack an atlas, because contrary to popular belief, not all roads lead to Graceland.


briliantdonkey said...

lol that is a GREAT story! Thanks for the entertaining read.