I have a student in my current “20 Minutes a Day” class (where students write 6 days a week for 20 minutes for 30 day), who wrote in her entry today that she had a doctoral professor who liked to use the phrase, “Relish and squid.” This referred back to a lecture the professor had delivered about the importance of pairing two unlikely elements in research to make students’ work more interesting. My response to my student was, “That could serve as a writing prompt for at least a year, pairing two unlikely and random elements and talking about how they relate to one another.” So, in the spirit of that prompt, I’m going to give “relish and squid” a try and randomly select two divergent things and see what I can say about them. Here goes.
I am sitting in my living room and in front of me right this moment is a bust of Elvis Presley. “Why?” you ask. Because we are in the middle of selling items from an estate and the owner of that estate was a collector of many items from popular culture, Elvis being one. So, I’ll pick Elvis Presley as my “relish” and hand sanitizer (it’s on the table too) as my “squid.” I have no idea what I’m going to say about these two things or how I can make them relate, but what the heck, here I go:
I’m thinking that Elvis Presley would be hard-pressed to be happy during our current Covid-19 pandemic. From what I’ve seen on television and movies, he was a man who loved to swivel his hips suggestively while singing, “One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, now go, cat, go.” First of all, he would have to get used to the limited “going” that has occurred over the past 4 months. Plus, he might be extremely unhappy to learn that many concert venues have closed their doors for the time being so nobody would see him perform his famous “Blue Suede Shoes.” And wouldn’t a song like, “Are you Lonesome Today?” just make everyone feel even more isolated and alone in these days of Covid since there are the lines, “Do the chairs in your parlor seem empty and bare? Do you gaze at your doorstep and picture me there?” We might all just go on a major crying jag if that particular Elvis song was currently on the Top 40.
And what in the world would Elvis make of the now ubiquitous hand sanitizer bottle? Being the man’s man that he was, surely he would decide that kind of obsession was reserved for the “sheep” of the world. Or would he? One quick Google search with the words, “Was Elvis a germaphobe?” turned up a story told by his ex-wife Priscilla Presley that Elvis had some Covid-19 appropriate behaviors long before the pandemic hit the world. According to Priscilla, Elvis brought his own silverware to other people’s homes and to restaurants when he ate and he only drank coffee at the spot where the handle connected with the rim of the mug since he figured no other person would ever think to put their lips there. So, now I’m thinking Elvis might have actually embraced the whole hand sanitizer lifestyle encouraged by the CDC here in 2020.
So, what relevant point can I make about “the King,” hand sanitizer and Covid-19? Perhaps that my initial premise was wrong. Upon reflection, I believe Elvis would fit right in during our current pandemic. After all, he was already comfortable carrying silverware in his pocket, drinking coffee from a spot on a mug where most sane people would never think to drink and spending a good deal of his career singing songs like, “It’s Now or Never,” “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” and “Only the Strong Survive.”
Maybe we need to start listening to Elvis more than ever. He might be looking down from above and trying to give us a little bit of advice on how to treat each other during these tough times. It’s not too hard to imagine good ole Elvis, with that twinkle in his dark eyes, smiling from above and saying quite simply, “Don’t Be Cruel.”