If Elvis isn't just a stamp, how do you explain this?

ROGER SIMON

January 10, 1993|By ROGER SIMON

"While much is too strange to be believed, nothing is to strange to have happened."

That is a quotation from Thomas Hardy. And I ask you to keep it in mind as you read the following.

I admit that much of what I am about to tell you is too strange to be believed. But all of it happened:

It is last Thursday night (actually Friday morning) at 1:05 a.m. EST and I am switching between "Letterman" on NBC and "Viva Las Vegas" on TNT.

I am not watching much of "Viva Las Vegas," however, because I have seen it several times and, let's be honest, it is no "King Creole."

Letterman is interviewing Penelope Ann Miller, a young movie star, who is wearing a daring dress and plugging a new workout video.

I decide to stick with Letterman in anticipation of seeing a film clip from the video, when some unseen force guides my hand to the channel changer.

I am not kidding. The channel changer is suddenly in my hand and I have switched back to "Viva Las Vegas."

After about 5 seconds, however, the movie abruptly halts. And the screen flashes to a live shot from Memphis, Tenn., where it is now 12:07 a.m. CST.

The message "TNT Live from Memphis" appears on the screen. It occurs to me that this may be the first time TNT has ever gone live. TNT shows old movies; it is essentially a film library. I didn't think TNT even had a news camera.

But Turner must have ordered CNN, which he also owns, to lend it one so TNT can bring us the live ceremonies releasing the Elvis Presley stamp to the public.

The reporter on the scene is George Klein, who was Elvis' close friend in high school, then a Memphis disc jockey and currently hosts the Elvis Presley Memorial Ceremony held each year at Memphis State University.

"We are at 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard," Klein tells us, which is better known as Graceland.

Priscilla Presley now comes on the screen, which is no big deal. She is on TV a lot. She accepts the first sheet of Elvis stamps from postal officials and thanks the crowd.

She says how much Elvis' daughter, Lisa Marie, wanted to send a note of thank you . . . but decided to come in person!

There is a gasp from the crowd. Lisa Marie never appears in person.

But she is here now, in the flesh, and speaking. She says only about four sentences, but it is enough to give everyone the same impression:

She has her father's exact voice. She has his mannerisms. She has his facial expressions. She even has his hair.

George Klein cannot believe what is happening. "This is a most historic moment!" he says. "This is the very first time -- I repeat the very first time and it bears repeating -- that Lisa Marie Presley Keough has made an appearance on behalf of her father!"

He almost chokes up, but fights back his emotions. "This day," he says, "will go down in history."

But how many people are up this late to watch it live? Not very many. But I am one of them because an unseen force guided my hand to switch channels.

OK, wait, now it really gets strange:

I get to work the next morning, Friday, and a letter is waiting for me. Written in ballpoint pen, it says:

"Roger,

"Here is the stamp you wanted before the official date! So much for the system.

"Love."

And then there is a name that has been scratched out.

I don't really understand the letter. I have never asked anybody for an Elvis stamp either publicly or privately.

But I look at the envelope. And on it is the official Elvis stamp canceled with a postmark of Jan. 6. In other words, I have an Elvis stamp sent to me two days before the stamp went on sale.

I now almost certainly possess, therefore, the first letter in America to go through the mails with the Elvis stamp on it.

What is it worth? I do not know. Thousands of dollars, I suppose. But that is not the point.

The point is that something very weird and wonderful is going on here. Some force, I believe, is trying make contact with me.

I do not know where all this is heading, but I can promise you one thing:

I intend to use my new powers for good and not evil.

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