I followed Currie through the gate and up the short pathway to the door. We were welcomed by Vernon Presley, Elvis’ father, a tall, grey-haired, attractive man, who led us down a long hallway to the living room, from which I could hear Brenda Lee on the record player, singing, “Sweet Nothin’s.”
The plain, almost drab living room was filled with people, but I spotted Elvis immediately. He was handsomer than he appeared in films, younger and more vulnerable-looking with his GI haircut. He was in civilian clothes, a bright red sweater and tan slacks, and he was sitting with one leg swung over the arm of a large over-stuffed chair, with a cigar dangling from his lips.
As Currie led me over to him, Elvis stood up and smiled. “Well,” he said. “What do we have here?”
I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t. I just kept staring up at him. “Elvis,” Currie said, “this is Priscilla Beaulieu. The girl I told you about.”
We shook hands and he said, “Hi, I’m Elvis Presley,” but then there was a silence between us until Elvis asked me to sit down beside him, and Currie drifted off.
“So,” Elvis said. “Do you go to school?”
“What are you, about a junior or senior in high school?”
I blushed and said nothing, not willing to reveal that I was only in the ninth grade.
“Well,” he persisted.
Elvis looked confused. “Ninth what?”
“Grade,” I whispered.
“Ninth grade,” he said and started laughing. “Why, you’re just a baby.”
“Thanks,” I said curtly. Not even Elvis Presley had the right to say that to me.
“Well. Seems the little girl has spunk,” he said, laughing again, amused by my response. He gave me that charming smile of his, and all my resentment just melted away.
We made small talk for a while longer. Then Elvis got up and walked over to the piano and sat down. The room suddenly grew silent. Everyone’s eyes were riveted on him as he began to entertain us.
He sang, “Rags to Riches” and “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” and then with his friends singing harmony, “End of the Rainbow.” He also did a Jerry Lee Lewis impersonation, pounding the keys so hard that a glass of water he’d set on the piano began sliding off. When Elvis caught it without missing a beat of the song, everyone laughed and applauded—except me. I was nervous. I glanced around the room and saw an intimidating life-size poster of a half-nude Brigitte Bardot on the wall. She was the last person I wanted to see, with her fulsome body, pouting lips, and wild mane of tousled hair. Imagining Elvis’ taste in women, I felt very young and out of place.
I glanced up and saw Elvis trying to get my attention. I noticed that the less response I showed, the more he began singing just for me. I couldn’t believe that Elvis Presley was trying to impress me.
Later, he asked me to come into the kitchen, where he introduced me to his grandmother, Minnie Mae Presley, who stood by the stove, frying a huge pan of bacon. As we sat down at the table, I told Elvis I wasn’t hungry. Actually I was too nervous to eat. “You’re the first girl I’ve met from the States in a long time,” Elvis said, as he began devouring the first of five gigantic bacon sandwiches, each one smothered with mustard. “Who are the kids listening to?”
I laughed. “Are you kidding?” I said. “Everyone listens to you.” Elvis seemed unconvinced. He asked me a lot of questions about Fabian and Ricky Nelson. He told me he was worried about how his fans would accept him when he returned to the States. Since he’d been away, he hadn’t made any public appearances or movies, although he’d had five hit singles, all recorded before he’d left.
It felt like we’d just begun talking when Currie came in and pointed to his watch. I had dreaded that moment; the evening had gone so fast. It seemed I had just arrived and now I was being hurried away. Elvis and I had just started to get to know each other. I felt like Cinderella, knowing that when my curfew came, all this magic would end. I was surprised when Elvis asked Currie if I could possibly stay longer. When Currie explained the agreement with my father, Elvis casually suggested that maybe I could come by again. Though I wanted to more than anything in the world, I didn’t really believe it would happen.