Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Elvis In 'Da' Grove

Yesterday we had Raver's Day here in sunny Buttonwood Bay and as anyone who regularly reads this blog will know, this park, given the average age of its inhabitants, isn't known for its ravers.

That's not to say we don't have our fair share of exhibitionists here ! I'm not sure if it's because 99.99% of the park population is American/Canadian or if it just comes with advancing years, but in any case, there are few shrinking violets when it comes to most activities. If there is ever a call for volunteers from an audience, hundreds of little wrinkled hands go up as fast as their arthritic elbows joints and catheter tubes will allow.

Raver's Day is the park owners way of 'paying it back' by organising an outdoor shindig to thank us, the residents, for paying THEM a lot of money every month to be here. They have no need to do this, of course, and so we accept our invitations with gratefully open arms and, as free booze and food is provided, suitably empty stomachs.

So at 11am yesterday morning, an incognito alien visiting from some distant galaxy, would have watched with growing fascination as about 700 wrinkles descended on The Grove area of the park, arriving by foot, bicycle, car and truck...but mostly by golf cart. Despite there being no Germans here, most of the picnic tables had been covered for days as people reserved their spots. We just took our folding chairs and sat with our friends in one of the spaces between the picnic tables.

The first order of business was food and this year, the entree was pizza. We used our tickets to be in the food line at the correct time and with a smoothness matched only by the Swiss railway system, I arrived at the serving table at dead on 12:15, the time specified on my ticket. I was handed my plastic utensils and a plate, closely followed by some oreo cookies, a bowl of salad with Italian dressing, and a huge slice of just cooked pepperoni pizza. I then decided to pick up my ice cream bar although I could have got it later and on the way back to our shady spot, I got a couple of ice cold cans of coke.

Looking like a contestant from Crackerjack (Crackerjack !!!), I wobbled my way to my chair and proceeded to tuck in. There was also unlimited beer for those that wanted it and most did.

Once everyone was fed and 'watered', the call went out that there were seconds and basically the pizza became all you could eat until 2:15pm when either the mobile pizza wagon ran out or else everyone was stuffed. My guess was the later.

Free pop (and beer) was available until the event was over at 4pm but so far I've not heard any stories about wild drunken orgies or any mindless desecration of property afterwards - well no more than is usual on a Tuesday afternoon here.

And now to the entertainment.

Lined up near The Grove, on the grass by the edge of the lake, was a collection of vintage cars to get my camera lens well and truly activated. I know nothing about such things but they did look pretty in the brilliant sunlight and being set up in a retirement park, each car was being closely examined by people who probably had a similar one when growing up ! My challenge, therefore, was to try and get a photo of each car with as few 'golden oldies' as possible climbing all over them.

My favourite was a stunning 1930 Packard Model 740 (ok I read the sign) which could seat 7 gangsters in comfort with a couple more on the running boards with machine guns a blazing. It didn't take too much imagination to 'see' Bonnie & Clyde on board being pursued by the local police and a few dozen scriptwriters wanting the movie rights.

Another photographic challenge to overcome was the fact that the cars were lined up very close to each other and many were in the shadow of nearby trees. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Back in The Grove, once we were all full of stomach and even fuller of bladder, it was time for the lights to dim (the sun went behind a cloud) and the stage music to be turned up several notches. This confused the hell out of several hearing aid wearers who just assumed their units had malfunctioned and could be seen smacking themselves on the side of the head. Not a good idea for people already likely to have dodgy carotid arteries.

We had a quick burst of Thus Spake Zarathustra (the opening music from 2001 : A Space Odyssey) and then the intro music for 'the' main man himself.

With hundreds of screams, dozens of hot flashes and a couple of boos from the partially sighted at the very back, Elvis entered The Grove ! Now Elvis never had the distinction of meeting me when he was alive, but since his death (and I do believe he IS dead), he has met me several times. Or at least 'copycat Elvis' has met me several times. Some have looked a lot like him and a few have even sounded a lot like him but none have both looked AND sounded like him.

Yesterday was no exception.

Oh yes he had the threads and most of the moves. He certainly had decent karaoke backing tracks and he even looked halfway good from a Georgia. But up close was a different matter.

But we didn't care. Remember the free beer ?

Even I had had 2 cokes and an oreo by then so I was away with the fairies on a sugar high. Elvis rocked my world, people.

With a technological ability the original Elvis would've been amazed by in the 50's, pseudo Elvis was able to wander off stage and mingle with his adoring fans all the while singing like the true professional he was. He even draped some of his sweaty silk scarves around the necks of a few lucky pensioners, one of whom almost passed out when he walked away and forgot he was still holding on to the other end. Thankfully no lasting harm was done and she was soon revived by the combined wafting of smelling salts and a slice of uneaten pepperoni pizza.

But even a copycat Elvis should be capable of generating an air of mystery and sadly this one went downhill after his first set was finished. He gave us the big closing number but then, instead of walking off to screams for more, he just lingered around at the side of the outdoor stage, fiddling with the machinery and presumably making sure everything was in place for his next set.

And so it was, with your intrepid cameraman hidden behind the sound equipment, I caught Elvis in an oddly disturbing off moment. Sans glasses, sans microphone and looking more like Bob The Builder in a fancy suit than one of the most recognisable stars of the last 100 years.

After we'd been entertained with some 50's and 60's tunes by a couple of excellent singers from the same bunch that provided Elvis, the great man, who had thankfully changed costume somewhere behind the scenes, returned in his leather gear. Now as you've seen already, this was a copycat of Elvis in his later years, after the burgers and pig's feet had taken their toll and so our leather pseudo Elvis was more like an ageing overweight Harley biker than the Elvis of Blue Hawaii. Less "Viva Las Vegas" and more "Viva Health Spa"

But like I said before, we didn't care. We were full of pizza, and if not on a sugar high from the free pop, we were all 'happy' from the free beer. Add to all that an average age of 137 and Elvis himself couldn't have had a better audience. A forgiving audience. Hell, lets face it, a forgetful audience.

And so we had a great Raver's Day and I know they won't be reading this 'review' but I'd still like to thank the park owners and staff who worked so hard to set it all up and were rewarded with a wonderful day, weatherwise. So wonderful in fact that I got a wee bit sunburned as I forgot to slap on the factor 75. Am I red faced ??!!

As with most events in this park, 30 minutes after it was over, you'd never have known anything had taken place in The Grove. The area had been cleaned of the little amount of rubbish that hadn't already been placed in the numerous bins, the picnic tables had been repositioned and silence had once again descended on the shady location at the edge of the lake.

But as I walked beneath the trees sometime later, I spotted something moving in the wind near the concrete stage. A false set of sideburns !

Pseudo Elvis may have left The Grove, but he'd left more than a memory behind !


rhymeswithplague said...

Your blog's title says it all:

Retirement rocks!!!

P. S. - Everything looks good from Georgia.

Jennyta said...

Brilliant post! I could almost imagine myself there. :)

jay said...

Hahaha! Are you sure those false sideburns weren't a couple of dead furry caterpillars? LOL!

Sounds like a blast. I love the idea that these things can take place somewhere in the world without leaving a tidal wave of litter behind.

rhymeswithplague said...

I love the 1955 Thunderbird (I think that's what it is...)!

Anonymous said...

I agree with your Blog which was really enjoyable to read. Thanks.

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