Elvis, a waitress and Joyce Carol Oates

Waiting On Elvis, 1956

This place up in Charlotte called Chuck’s where I
used to waitress and who came in one night
but Elvis and some of his friends before his concert
at the Arena, I was twenty-six married but still
waiting tables and we got to joking around like you
do, and he was fingering the lace edge of my slip
where it showed below my hemline and I hadn’t even
seen it and I slapped at him a little saying, You
sure are the one aren’t you feeling my face burn but
he was the kind of boy even meanness turned sweet in
his mouth.

Smiled at me and said, Yeah honey I guess I sure am.

— Poem by Joyce Carol Oates (1987)

“Oates takes off from an incident described by Kays Gary in ‘Elvis Defends Low Down Style,’ Charlotte Observer, June 27, 1956: ‘The waitress brought his coffee. Elvis reached down and fingered the lace on her slip. “Aren’t you the one?” “I’m the one, baby!” ‘….

“Oates’s poem… suggests a more complete and convincing match than anything I know between Elvis Presley and Bill Clinton: one man who could, and one man who can, charm you almost to death.”

— From “Double Trouble: Bill Clinton and Elvis Presley in a Land of No Alternatives” by Greil Marcus (2000)

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