Last weekend my 2-year-old daughter Audrey was talking to her Uncle Eric and Grandma G.G. over Skype. It’s a good way for the three of them to see each other face to face without traveling the necessary thousand miles. It’s also a good way for Audrey to show off her vast assortment of stuffed animals. She started with Tigger, showing him off happily for the camera. After Tigger came Puppy. Then came Momma and Baby Fox, Puppy, Lion, and so on. It was about that time that I handed Audrey her stuffed Elvis doll to show off. Her response? “No,” backing away in dislike.
It was a disappointing moment for me for two reasons. One is that my wife and I bought that Elvis doll for her in Las Vegas shortly after she was born. We’re not big Elvis fans by any means, but the Elvis stage show was in our hotel, it was a pretty cool toy—complete with jumpsuit and cape!—and hey, why not, right? We thought it would be a fun counterpart to the myriad of stuffed animals and baby dolls she had already amassed. The second reason why her rejection was saddening had everything to do with my grandmother. Toots, as we called her, was a huge fan of The King’s. And I’d hate to think that she is looking down on her great granddaughter disapprovingly for fearing her favorite hip-swinging idol.
I suddenly saw this as an opportunity to forge a bond between their generations. What had been broken now needed to be fixed.
In order to fix it, however, I had to figure out why Audrey hated Elvis so much. One possibility is that I perform my Elvis impersonation—“Thank ya. Thank ya very much,” and “Hunka hunka burnin’ love, baby.”—in a suitably deep voice. Deep voices sometimes have the unintended effect of terrifying her. Another is that he clearly doesn’t fit in with the animals and babies she has as toys. It’s a man with a cape, and looks nothing like the rest of her “friends”. A third possibility is that she has no connection to Elvis. Who is he to her after all? She’s never heard his music, seen his movies, or even seen a picture. Why should she care?
Regardless of the reason, Audrey rejecting this awesome Elvis doll and my grandmother shaking her finger at me for raising an Elvis-fearing daughter has inspired me to take action. So I made a vow: I was going to do my damnedest to make her like her Elvis doll.
And so begins the Love Me Tender Challenge.
Step One: Elvis Music
Clearly Elvis is best known for his music so this is where I need to begin. The plan is simple: play Elvis music while playing with the doll and see what happens. Dancing is also important here if I want to be successful. Thankfully my rug-cutting is frequently described as INFECTIOUS. Just like Elvis’s.
Step Two: Elvis Magazines & Memorabilia
It also might help for Audrey to see what Elvis actually looked like. After all, he was a handsome man and not at all doll-like. I think perhaps seeing some realistic pictures of The King will help forge a connection between the man and the toy.
Thankfully my grandmother Toots will be swooping in to the rescue here. I have a whole box of her old Elvis magazines from the seventies. They have admittedly gathered their fair share of dust thus far, but no longer! This weekend their cheesy glory will breathe fresh air once more.
Step Three: Elvis Movies
Pictures are one thing, but moving pictures are a whole ‘nother. And Elvis made a lot of moving pictures. I have not seen any of them—sorry Toots!—but that ends this weekend. I performed a little search on Netflix to see which of the King’s movies were available on Instant and—perhaps thankfully—only one was available: “Blue Hawaii”. It’s the story of a man (Elvis, of course) just out of the Army and back in his home state of Hawaii. Now that he’s out of the military however, he just wants to surf and swing his hips for the ladies. But his parents have a different plan for him. They want him to join the family’s—get this—pineapple business! If a movie with that description doesn’t result in a newfound love for The King, then I’m guessing nothing will.
And that’s my plan. I freely admit that all of this is fairly frivolous and silly. After all, my daughter doesn’t need Elvis in her life to be a well-adjusted member of future society. I didn’t either. But it did bother me to see her fear the Elvis doll so much. And knowing how important The King of Rock and Roll was to Toots…well, I figured why not? Let’s try this plan on for size. It’ll be fun. Hopefully.
So over the weekend I will put all three parts of my plan into effect and document the results for you, my readers, next Tuesday. Will I be able to get my daughter to like her Elvis doll? Will he become a favorite of hers? Or will it all burn up like a hunka love? Good or bad, we’ll find out soon enough.