Strange Tux

Notes From New Year's Eve, 1999

By Michael J. Legeros


First Night Raleigh is a ritual event that, weather permitting,
draws several thousand New Year's Eve revelers to the Fayette-
ville Street Mall.  There's food and drink and funnel cakes;
stuff for kids; loads of indoor events; live bands; lots of cops;
and a giant acorn ('cause we're the City of Oaks) that's lowered
at midnight.  (Not from the top of any tall, impressive downtown
structure, mind you, but from a mobile crane parked in front of
the ass-ugly Civic Center...)  The dress code ranges from formal
to bag-lady; accoutrements can include party hats, funny glasses,
streamers, noisemakers, and balloons.  (Tin-foil is popular, too.)
Now, wear an *Elvis* suit to said event-- while walking around or
just nonchalantly sitting on a bench-- and the fun *really* starts
to happen.  From eyewitness reports on December 31, 1999, here's
what wearing sequins, sunglasses, fake sideburns, and flared bell-
bottoms can cause:

    o you get asked off the street to lip-sync "Burning Love"
      at a nearby private party

    o you get a round of applause while casually strolling
      through Cafe Luna

    o you get smiles and stares performing similar strolls
      through other eateries

    o you get inexplicably recognized by children as young
      as four-years old

    o you get waved at, pointed at, high-fived, and "yo-
      ed" by men of all ages

    o you get hugged, squeezed, bumped-up against, and
      lap-sat by women of all ages

    o you get asked to sign autographs, on both paper
      and flesh

    o you get asked to pose for pictures with, oh, a
      hundred different people

    o and some of whom either don't speak English or
      simply don't speak and pantomime their thanks

    o you get photographed by the First Night
      staff

    o you get filmed for the evening news

    o you cause firefighters to stare

    o you cause police officers to burst
      out laughing

    o you cause traffic to stop when you cross
      the street

    o you cause traffic to stop when you walk *down*
      the street

    o you get asked about your whereabouts, His death,
      and why the King is wearing running shoes

    o you get a request from a Raleigh Park Ranger, who
      pulls over in her vehicle to ask if you'll sing a
      song

    o you hear "I knew he was alive" exclaimed every five
      minutes

    o as well as the grammatically colorful "I seen Elvis"

    o you get cold, despite both your big ol' fluffy long-
      johns and all the damn walking you're doing

    o you get refused entrance to indoor events, if you're
      too cheap to buy a First Night button

    o and on the way home, you still have to pay for hot do-
      nuts at Krispy-Kreme.  Alas, no gratis for the Grace-
      lander.


Copyright 2000 by Michael J. Legeros

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