Last week I decided I was going to do everything I could to get my daughter to open her heart to Elvis. Or her Elvis doll to be more specific. While explained in more detail here, I decided to do this for my late grandmother Toots who loved Elvis about as much as any one person could. I also did it because I hate to see a cool toy (that I bought!) go to waste. Over the weekend I launched a three-part offensive on my 2-year-old, incorporating music, memorabilia, and movies from the King of Rock n’ Roll.
Was I successful in making the Elvis doll a loved member of our household? Or did the experience leave me all shook up? Let’s find out.
My wife and I don’t have a lot of Elvis songs in our library, but we do have a few. And with Pandora available too we figured we had enough Elvis to make a dent in our daughter’s musical tastes. The first song we played was “All Shook Up” and suddenly my campaign to make Audrey like Elvis seemed like a cakewalk. Only seconds into the song Audrey had climbed out of her chair and started screaming and dancing. She was loving it. Absolutely loving it. This was going to be easy.
“Heartbreak Hotel” came on next, and while it wasn’t as excitement generating as the previous song, it wasn’t eliciting any disinterest either. She was still enjoying Elvis and we were off to the races.
Toots’s old Elvis magazines are fantastic. They’re an amazing glimpse into what it must have been like to be a fan of the man back then, and I thought they would help connect Elvis’s music with his real-life image. And, in turn, the doll.
I should have just stuck with the music.
I showed her the magazines with a level of enthusiasm that I should rightfully be embarrassed about. I had them all laid out for her, I got the Elvis doll too, and I cheerfully encouraged her to come check it all out. Her disinterest was immediate. She glanced at them and walked away. I went after her and convinced her to come back, hoping that if I opened them up a bit to show the pictures to her…
She walked away again.
Audrey and I made it exactly 28 minutes and 21 seconds into “Blue Hawaii” and frankly, I’m amazed we made it that far. While I always had a hope that watching an Elvis movie would help, deep down I expected this plan of my attack to fail. It wasn’t a cartoon after all, and I couldn’t imagine Audrey putting up with much of it. But I must admit it certainly had its fair share of wacky highlights in those first 28. Stuff like:
- Elvis’s name was Chadwick Gates in the film. Chadwick? Really?
- Upon arriving back in his home state of Hawaii after being away for two years with the Army, he is caught by his girlfriend kissing a stewardess at the top of the airplane’s external stairway. Amazingly he gets out of trouble by giving his girlfriend an even better kiss. He then follows it up by singing a song about how he was mostly true to her in Europe. Nice, Elvis. Real nice.
- When you put Elvis in Hawaii you get a lot of what I creatively call “Shirtless Elvis”. Hey, let’s face it, he was a handsome man. Let the man go topless I say.
- While swimming with his very understanding girlfriend, he encounters some native Hawaiians in a boat. What does Elvis do in this situation? He hops into the boat, grabs a guitar, and starts singing of course!
- The guys then ditch Elvis’s girlfriend in the water and start playing music on the beach. When she loses her bikini top in the water and won’t come back on shore, who goes to rescue her? The beach bum dog of course who quickly grabs a shirt in his mouth and swims out to her. Nice, guys. Real nice.
- Angela Lansbury is Elvis’s mom? Creative casting she wrote.
- While Elvis doesn’t have much problem cheating on his girlfriend, he absolutely, positively won’t touch that rum drink, no sir. It’s interesting to see what damaged an idol’s reputation back then and what didn’t.
It was around that time Audrey decided she had had enough.
ME: “Did you like it?”
HER: (pause) “No.”
She then got up to leave and I held up her Elvis doll.
ME: “Don’t forget Elvis! Could you bring Elvis with you?”
HER: (pause) “No.”
And that pretty much sealed it. She might have liked the music. She might have even liked a good chunk of the movie. But she still didn’t like the doll.
But why? Why did the doll continue to fail to steal her heart? I’m not entirely sure, but I think it comes down to one of two things:
- She never saw real life Elvis as having an influence on the doll. She never made a strong enough connection between the two—or any connection at all—and, as a result, the doll remains in the jailhouse.
- She just doesn’t like the doll, for whatever reason. Maybe it’s because it’s not shaped like a fuzzy animal. Or perhaps it’s the jumpsuit. Kids these days.
Regardless of the cause of her distaste for the doll, I do think I was moderately successful in getting Audrey to like Elvis the Man. She found his music fun to dance to and she was more interested in “Blue Hawaii” than any 2-year-old has a right to. I’m going to take this as a minor victory. And while I am admittedly disappointed in failing to endear her to the doll, there is a certain satisfaction in knowing that if Toots really is watching us from on high, she is no longer shaking her head in dismay.
I tried, Toots. This one was for you.