Take the Heidi Hall Bus Tour

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Every American should make one pilgrimage to Graceland, Elvis Presley's famous home.

First, it's only right to educate oneself about the man who forever changed American music. Second, a road trip to Memphis, Tenn., is a lot of fun.

And third, you are going to want to witness and at least mentally mock -- if not make disparaging remarks to your friends -- the lunatic Elvis worshippers frantically trying to soak up every remaining molecule of the King's essence.

My favorite on Monday was the skinny, pale guy who got in the gift shop cashier's face.

"Do you have Elvis movies?" he asked frantically, as though the only thing that could save him was a "King Creole" screening.

The cashier was sick to death of these people. "No," she sighed.

"Are you sure?" he said incredulously.

"Yes," she said.

"DOES ANYBODY HAVE THEM?" he shrieked.

I've been to Graceland three times: once on my own and twice with people who visited me and wanted to see the place. Monday marked my latest visit. The Other Half and I met some friends from Pensacola, Fla., who were making their first pilgrimage to Graceland.

The Graceland audio tour contains a lot of information -- some much different than what we actually know about Elvis today.

For instance, the tour includes daughter Lisa Marie fondly recalling the hustle and bustle of Graceland at all hours -- nothing about the drugs and other women. It talks about Elvis and Priscilla's amicable divorce -- nothing about her tell-all "Elvis and Me." It describes Elvis treating his fans to his piano concert and then dying quietly of a heart attack ... 'nuff said.

But who wouldn't want the negatives of their lives conveniently left out of their home tour?

If I ever became internationally known, the audio narrative for the Heidi Hall Bus Tour would begin at the house in Sikeston where I lived from age 10 to 19.

A deep, solemn voice would say, "This is where Heidi spent hours honing her craft, hunched over her desk deep into the night, reading and doing homework."

It would skip the part where I had a "pounder" bag of peanut M&M's at my side at all times, barely passed algebra, was nearly killed in a particularly fierce acne battle and ruined the kitchen linoleum by dropping a hot cookie sheet on it.

Then the tour would proceed to Piedmont, Mo., where I lived in a rental trailer.

The deep, solemn voice would say, "Despite their poverty, Heidi and her roommates filled the manufactured home with music and merriment."

It would omit the section where one roommate stole my cheatin' boyfriend, I wrecked a car while trying to spit out the window on a curvy road and I refused to pick up dirty clothing off the floor of my bedroom until I was no longer able to walk through it.

Finally, the bus would wind its way past the Cape Girardeau roach motel where I lived above a drug dealer, the place near the river where I had to crawl up the driveway when it snowed and, finally, my current abode.

And the deep, solemn voice would leave out the multiple failed diets, the loud arguments with The Other Half and my unfortunate discovery of vanilla-flavored vodka.

Of course, first I've got to become beloved by millions of fans the world over to (a) make anyone interested in a bus tour, and (b) make anyone leave out the bad stuff.

But how hard can that be?

Heidi Hall is managing editor of Southeast Missourian.

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