June 29, 2006, 2:51 pm

They Laughed And Called Him “Elvis”


Ain’t no reason to worry about that Avian thingy.

Pooh pooh on the Plague!

Ignore influenza!

Cancel cancer!

We are faced with a much more lethal threat: Dodge Fever.

With Cragar Mag-itis as a side effect.

Even the model/nurse looks like she can’t believe what she is doing.

Great cap, though!

And I had that uniform, although you would have to add six inches to the hemline to really get an idea of what it looked like.

Oh I wore my share of mini-skirts.

Just not to work.


I’m at my local Starbucks again. Boycotting Borders is not so painful now, I found a nook with plush chairs free for the taking .

What is painful is being subjected to the Dixie Chicks over the speakers, thinking they are idiots yet thinking it takes guts to basically insult their fan base and stick to what ever they believe. Wanting to hate them but not being able to get past the fact that they are one talented buncha gals.

Why can’t singers just sing nice 3-minute “symphonies” (as Phil Spector called them) and keep their politics to themselves?

If this is their new album, it’s really good.

Somebody help me.



He didn’t look a thing like Elvis.

In fact he looked exactly like this photo of “Grease”.

Right down to the pink shirt under the black suit, a pink carnation on his jacket; his greased hair forming a pincurl in the middle of his forehead.

It was as though he had seen the movie and morphed into character.

My co-workers laughed at him and called him “Elvis”.

To this day I don’t know why.

All I could think of was “Danny Zuko” (and to try and suppress the urge to ask him if could dance).


He stood over six feet tall.

As far as I know the suit was the only thing he owned. I know it was the only thing I ever saw him wear.

Asleep in the hospital lobby.

Walking the streets when I’d spot him on my way to work.

Walking the streets when I left work in the morning.

Sitting in a local coffee shop (this was in the pre-Starbucks era).

He was homeless.

And strangely compelling.

And somewhat intimidating.


He had no family, as far as we knew.

And his frequent visits to our ER were never without their drama.

He’d often have “seizures”, his lanky frame would be found on the floor.

Fortunately these “seizures” always ended up with with his arms cradling his head, so he never suffered a head injury.

In fact, the only reason we “knew” they were “seizures” is that he told us and explained every detail of how they happened.

What an amazing ability!

I guess some people just have the knack.

The knack for trying to get a bed in the hospital so they’d have a place to stay.


Somehow I always winded up with him as my patient.

Apparently it was because I always did “so well” with the psych patients.

Yeah, right.

I was a very young nurse and just a bit leery of this giant of a man dressed like John Travolta on a dance floor.

Smelling like a 5-day-old digested margarita.

One day, he refused to come “out” of his seizure, his head cradled in his forearms as he lay on the cool tile floor that was probably laid sometime in the ’50s.

Appropriate, in a way.

He even managed to land at an angle so that he fit in the room without hitting any furniture.

Enough was enough.

Finally our City’s Finest had to come and assist the patient to an amazing recovery.

Not even post-ictal!

In fact, rather coherently obnoxious. I heard a few four-letter-words for the first time that day. I do believe one of them was directed at my anatomy.

(No wait, I had heard it once or twice in “Saturday Night Fever”. It began with a “c”. They edit it out of all the broadcast network versions.)

He was discharged in cuffs to the local authorities.

They knew him well.


That was the last time I saw him.

He came to mind again, for the first time in almost three decades as I watched “Grease” on TV last night.

I wonder how I would have handled our interactions had I been older, with a bit more experience.

I know I would have tried to find out more of what he was thinking, how he came to be in the circumstances he found himself and what exactly those circumstances were.

I know it bothered me that my colleagues laughed at him.

It still bothers me that people laughed at him.

There was nothing but homelessness and helplessness in that man’s life.

Under that ETOH-soaked persona lay a mental illness.

He’s what they refer to today as “dual-diagnosis”.

Back then he was just a joke and an inconvenience.


In keeping with the “Grease” theme, a quote from “Summer Lovin'”:

“Wonder what he’s doin’ now?”

He’d be an older man – he was in his early 40s back then.

And you know what?

I’d like to believe he could have danced John Travolta under the table.

(Grease photo: Copyright © Paramount Pictures)

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About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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