Can a dead man have a birthday? There is an anniversary of his death, certainly, but to me a birthday seems like an event that requires one be present. In order to celebrate a birthday one has to be alive, at the very least. I suspect, though, that I am in the minority on this matter. Every year, shortly after New Years, January 8th comes around and we are all reminded that it is Elvis’ birthday. Elvis is obviously a titan of a man, and I suppose if anyone is capable of celebrating a birthday from beyond the grave it is him.
Every so often one has to stop and think about how we will be remembered. Like most people, I hope to be remembered as a kind and charitable man, thought of fondly by those I love. But, I confess, I am greedy. I want more than that. I want something that I have seen in Elvis’ legacy. I am jealous not of his estate, or his lasting musical career. I’m jealous of the fact that everyone knows he loved a sandwich. The fried peanut butter and banana sandwich is his. You cannot consider it without thinking of him, it is his essence, presented in sandwich form. He may not be known for the sandwich but the sandwich is absolutely known for him, and I can only dream of taking such an association to my grave.
Seeing as it was the anniversary of the man’s birth, I tried to do his sandwich justice. The bread was a classic American sandwich bread, fresh out of the oven and made by my own hands. A fellow sandwich enthusiast was highly suspicious of my making a sandwich out of white bread. The man is forever on the hunt for flavor and as he told me, “I have yet to find a reason to hold any respect for white bread at all.” “It’s Elvis’ sandwich,” I told him. “What, are you going to use 7-grain?” Peanut butter went down on both slices of bread, sliced banana and a drizzle of honey in the middle. Fried in a skillet in enough butter to make me reconsider what I was doing entirely, the sandwiches came out wonderfully. The buttery, nutty sweetness is a celebratory decadence, a powerful combination that must be eaten a little bit at a time. I kept a tall glass of milk close by and took in the sandwich as it deserved. I may never be so known for any particular item but please, remember me as a man who loved a good sandwich.
Are you going anywhere? The sandwich Lola delicious, and I am proud that you made your own white bread. Also 2 sandwiches? Or is the other not a peanut butter and banana?
I have no plans to depart this mortal coil, it is just that sometimes a sandwich leads a man to consider things, even big things. And yes, there is a second sandwich there. The second one was burned a little, but the bitter char at the edges provided an interesting counter to the almost overwhelming sweetness of the sandwich.
I had the privilege of ordering a fried peanut butter & banana sandwich while staying at the Heartbreak Hotel, the official hotel of the estate of Elvis Presley, located directly across the street from Graceland.
Elaboration on the setting:
I got married last April and we decided to honeymoon in Memphis because we’re fans of Elvis, Stax, etc. It was a great decision and I wholeheartedly recommend the trip. We got a package deal for staying at the “Heartbreak Hotel” that included tickets to Graceland, Stax, Sun, etc. The hotel is of a piece with the rest of the Graceland campus; touristy and tacky, but in a sort of quaint 1991-ish manner that I found mostly charming. The bar/lounge area is called “The Jungle Room,” in honor of the room of the same name at Graceland, and it is filled day and night with people from all over the world, enjoying beverages and watching Elvis videos on a projection television.
Elaboration on the sandwich:
Maybe a little anticlimactic? There is never more than one person working the Jungle Room, and they are at the bar most of the time. If you order food, they have to duck into this tiny kitchen area and do it up real quick so they can hurry back to the bar. I’d say the sandwich was cursorily prepared. To some extent you can’t totally ruin something that simple, although there are certainly degrees of quality. It was fucking huge, though, and came with fries.
Elaboration on the post-sandwich experience:
For lunch that day we had eaten an amazing meal at the world-famous Four Way soul food restaurant, and for dinner I had enjoyed a pretty good pulled pork barbecue sandwich. The PB&B was an evening snack, and the combination of all of that diverse food with the normal physiological disruptions of travel resulted in my intestines saying something along the lines of “Dude, what the fuck.” The night to come could only be described as harrowing.
Elaboration on our escape from Memphis:
We left the day before flood waters swallowed the entire state. No one has entered or left Tennessee since.
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