Walking in Memphis: My Spice Girls ride again

December 21, 2014

The Spice Girls in Memphis
The Spice Girls in Memphis

A Girl’s Trip was long overdue. You would think it would be a little bit easier for my Spice Girls to get together, but for some reason it just gets harder to squeeze in time for dinner, drinks, or even a movie. Let alone several whole spouseless, childless days.

Baby Spice has taken a big promotion and works a lot. Ginger and I both work and have two kiddos at home. Sporty is busy raising two high school boys, working and volunteering at her church. And Posh has an extremely active 1-year-old and no free time. Every time we try to schedule something, someone’s kid gets sick or someone has a family emergency. Every. Single. Time.

Taking Care of Business

You all know I need my “Me Time.” In fact, I think all parents need “me time.” It keeps you sane, and there is no reason to feel guilty about it. So we committed to having a trip together before the year ended.

We decided on Memphis, home of Beale Street, barbecue and the King of rock ‘n’ roll.

The peacock-themed stained glass windows in the Graceland living room.
The peacock-themed stained glass windows in the Graceland living room.

Sporty Spice is a born tourist. She will go to every museum, stop to read every historic sign and walk through every tourist spot and old cemetery. She loves the history of places and does not want to miss a thing. Posh doesn’t care where we go. She just wants room service and really good food. Throw in a pool or a spa treatment and she is in heaven. Baby Spice has boundless energy and loves history. She likes to go to new places and try new things. Ginger and I? We’re just glad to get away from our kids for a while. I know. We’re awful.

Now, I am not a huge Elvis fan. That’s not to say that I don’t like some of his music. His “Crawfish” duet with Kitty White is one of my all-time favorite movie songs. What I’m drawn to is his persona – intense, larger than life, decadent and sparkly! Kinda like me but with longer sideburns. Touring his Graceland estate has always been on my bucket list, and The Hubs refuses to take me.

So last Saturday, we hit the ground running. First up, breakfast at the Waffle House. Posh really wasn’t into the experience until they laid down waffles, eggs, sausage and grits with butter pooling on the top. Two cups of coffee later, she checked herself in on Facebook and announced to the world that she, Queen of the Food Snobs, was actually enjoying her breakfast.

Then we raced out to Graceland. In my mind and from the Web, I pictured a genteel mansion with columns and white fencing. And it is, if you can ignore the circus that surrounds it. You park, walk into a terminal, then catch one of the shuttles that run non-stop. Once you’re on the shuttle, you strap on some earphones and secure an iPad for your own self-guided tour. The iPad tour has lots of bells and whistles (it’s narrated by that hunka hunka burnin’ love John Stamos), and by punching around on the screen you can see additional pictures, news clips and even hear snippets of the King’s music.

Welcome to the Jungle

I thought the Jungle Room was a little creepy. I don't like monkeys!
I thought the Jungle Room was a little creepy. I don’t like monkeys!

Our first stop was the living room. With its giant peacock-themed stained glass windows and blue drapes, it is really spectacular. The dining room is set for dinner, and according to my iPad, Elvis kept the kitchen staffed around the clock in case anyone ever got hungry. Ceilings there are covered in fabric or shag, even mirrors! I suspect Elvis must have liked to see himself. A lot. The upstairs is off limits, to respect Elivs’ “privacy.” They close the area off from curious eyes with big red curtains that look like they should be on a stage somewhere. The man must have had a serious sense of theater. Posh laughed out loud though, because the entire tour and the grounds are constructed to emulate a staged production. Frankly, nothing seems private or sacred at Graceland.

We are finally headed to the fabled Jungle Room. It’s a trip. That is all I can say. The whole place is green shag and camo curtains and heavy shellacked wooden furniture. Creepy little monkey statues abound. It is dark and a little seedy, I found it fascinating and a little depressing all at the same time. I marveled at what some people could pay for and be able to live with.

My favorite part of the tour though is the trophy room. Yes, Elvis had an entire room dedicated to displaying his gold records and awards. And the costumes! There are several of his iconic 1970’s jumpsuits on display. The artistry of the suits, intricate beading and stitching, is incredible. I tried – several times – to get Posh to buy one for her husband but she held firm. Sporty was hoping there would be a photo booth where we could pose for pictures wearing them, but no such luck. So we hopped the shuttle to go see the King’s old airplanes. He knew how to travel! In velveteen, vinyl and with sparkling gold sinks apparently. His jumbo jet was almost as over the top as the house, and he used it primarily to travel from show to show. It even had a phone that he could use to call anywhere in the world. I didn’t know that kind of technology was even around in the ’70’s!

It was great, kitschy fun. After the tour finished, Sporty Spice bought our $40 tourist photo and we sussed out an Irish pub for a late lunch. After we were recharged, it was on to Beale Street for live music and cold beers. I laughed so much that weekend that my core muscles hurt by Sunday. I think I need to get out more. Cross your fingers that the Liberace museum will re-open in time for our next trip!

You can see more photos on the Bathwater Facebook page! Have you been to Graceland? What did you think?

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