I love kitsch. So it was like hitting pay dirt when I walked into Glenn Silver’s apartment and saw the ultimate kitsch icon – the Bust of Elvis. Glenn lived in one of those Montreal flats that went on and on. He had very little furniture, so there was room after room of hardwood floors with nothing in them. And Elvis was just sitting there on the floor against the wall.
I couldn’t conceal my delight!
Glenn grinned, “Yeah, my mom gave it to me. You want it?”
“Seriously?” I examined the specimen. It was one of the nicer ones I’d seen; fine kitsch as opposed to cheap and nasty kitsch, if you will. Resplendent in his gold-studded white jacket and adorned with a peach coloured scarf, Elvis’ expression was wonderfully vacant. A benign sneer teased from the edge of his top lip.
“Yes please!” I jumped up and down clapping my hands together. I couldn’t believe my luck – best present ever! Glenn laughed.
My douchebag boyfriend was less than thrilled. He tried to convince me not to take it, saying “you don’t really want that thing,” which didn’t work cuz HELLO I KNOW WHAT I WANT. It was heavy but he flat-out refused to help me carry it home.
I said, no worries, that I could do it. I started down the steps holding tight to my plaster prize. But when we got out onto the street, things just got worse. As I struggled under the weight of the Bust of Elvis, Douchie declared he didn’t even want to be seen walking down the street with me.
“And you’re not going to put it in the living room – you keep that thing in YOUR studio!” (Uh..."that thing"??) He was shouting. There was definitely some rage in his face.
Douchus Baggus stomped off leaving me confused on the sidewalk.
Cradled gently in my arms, Elvis stared blankly up at me.
I flagged a cab and went home to the apartment I shared with the Douche-a-saurus.
I mostly have an understanding and accepting nature so I refrained from judging my boyfriend too harshly. He didn’t share my enthusiasm, and that was ok...I forgave him. But deep in the core of my being something clicked. I became aware that El Doucho wasn’t the right man for me. He was so mean about this thing that was obviously important to me. I loved that Bust of Elvis the way DB loved his (insert vaguely medieval sounding prog-rock band name here) albums, and I never asked him to put those away...
* * * * *
Eventually I discovered that Douchie-poo was sleeping around on me. So I left him, and I took my Bust of Elvis with me. I tucked Elvis into storage with my other belongings and went gallivanting off to London to work in animation. That’s where I met The Huz. Well, he wasn’t The Huz yet, he was ...The Fiancé.
When The Fiancé and I decided to wed, we shipped my things from Montreal to London. The Fiancé helped me pack everything, including my prized possession, the Bust of Elvis. The box must have got thrown around a lot in the shipping for when we unpacked it...
...poor Elvis had cracked into 3 pieces.
The Fiancé said he’d help me fix him, and jokingly added, “…but only if you promise not to tell anyone.”
As a couple, we pieced the Bust of Elvis together again. It’s not a perfect job, he’s got a few scars – one traveling across the bridge of his nose through his eyes, and another at the base of his throat. But I think the scars make him more valuable, more exciting. What could be cooler than the ultimate kitsch icon? One that had been broken and lovingly glued back together!
Of course, my Bust of Elvis is much more than just the sum of his parts. He’s a symbol of my husband’s love and acceptance of me.
For many years Elvis lived in the kitchen, observing us from his lofty perch on the top of the fridge as we cooked meals, washed dishes and fed our babies. Nowadays I keep him in my studio, at eye level.
His paint is peeling a bit, his gaze is as vacant as ever, and he’s got the patina of a quarter century of basking in my adoration.
Thank-you Glenn Silver.