Elvis - and Lima - alone
columnist o Aug. 22, 2002 -
are a few things a man should know by the time he's
my age: Don't talk politics with libertarians. Avoid
hot wings after 10 p.m. And never, no mater what your
friends say, attempt "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" in a
to those one more. Leave Elvis alone.
this space last week, I presented a slight narrative exploring
the hypothetical of what Elvis would be like if he were alive
and working as a short-route driver in Lima. It was a lightweight
little ramble about what lessons Elvis might have learned
with time and the opportunity to live a more traditional life.
No attacks on The King or his fans. No mean-spirited jokes.
It was by most accounts a gentle, inoffensive column.
you happen to be an Elvis fan.
earnest as my intentions may have been, some folks still managed
to take offense. Most of the people who responded to my column
failed to point out actual statements that bothered them.
They just didn't like me mentioning Elvis in a space typically
populated by booger jokes.
writer accused me of using The King's name just to sell papers.
Another assured me that Elvis was in heaven, not Lima, and
that I would likely not be meeting him upon my demise. One
particularly confused writer, apparently not realizing my
column had been a work of fiction, chastised me for printing
the ramblings of a "crazy loon person who thinks he's Elvis."
I said, leave Elvis alone.
dealt with these missives in the way I always do. If there
was a signature and return address, I composed a letter thanking
the writer for reading my column and assuring them that next
week I would almost certainly aggravate someone else.
letters are the work of cowards and idiots and are stored
away in my guest bathroom in preparation for the day toilet
paper prices soar.
one unsigned e-mail did bother me, not because it was particularly
angry or threatening, but because it spoke to a bigger issue
that seems to come up too often. The writer seemed less incited
by my mention of Elvis than by my suggestion that anyone,
let alone the King of Rock 'n' Roll, would chose to live in
just finished reading your article in today's paper. I just
don't know what to say. I have been living here in Lima for
a little over a year now and I think everybody that lives
here is in a fantasy world. ... I don't understand what people
in this town think. ... I have heard people call this town
'Little Chicago.' ... This little town is nothing like Chicago.
And now you are writing a article about seeing Elvis. Why
would Elvis move to Lima, there is nothing fun or exciting
about Lima. This town has got to be the most boring town I
have ever been in. The only thing that keeps me living here
is my job. I think there are a lot of people in this town
including yourself that need to wake up and realize that this
town is not what you people try to make it out to be."
e-mail goes on to say the paper is wasting precious space
by printing my column when they could fill that slot with
news - an argument not worthy of retort. But the rest of the
letter did need an answer. So I fired back an e-mail explaining
why I - and others like me - live here. And since the writer
is probably not alone in this question, I figured I'd share
it with the rest of you.
Reader, I understand better than most the frustration with
living in this area. I grew up in this town and was first
in line to leave when I hit college age. But after years of
living and working in more exotic locales, I hit that stage
where family and friends and the ability to drive to the office
in under 10 minutes took precedence over pretty much everything
else. I'm not blind to the things we're missing.
would love to have a few more good restaurants, some decent
movie options and a place to see good live music once in awhile.
But like most of the folks around here, I decided at some
point to trade that off for an affordable mortgage and the
knowledge that whenever I go to the grocery, I'll see a familiar
face. I realize this sounds like a soul-squashing trade out
to someone longing for the urban clamor. I would have thought
the same thing just 10 years ago. But what can I say, it's
my story. Thanks for writing. I hope you find either great
love here or a good job somewhere more alluring.
Leave Elvis alone.