Elvis from heaven, Elvis from hell

He talked about his hair, his one girlfriend who went on to marry a creep, his hair, his painting and plastering career, his hair, journeying to Graceland and, lest we forget, his hair.

Published March 19, 2003 9:30PM (EST)

Hell: It wasn't Elvis hair, it was Elvis impersonator hair

I'd been back about a month from a two-week vacation in Greece, one that had culminated in my slipping on a pile of donkey crap and badly spraining my ankle. I was home for the Fourth of July weekend, and my parents suggested I attend an outdoor concert by a Beatles tribute band. Lugging lawn chairs, we went to the show.

It must have been pretty dark because before I knew it I was deep in conversation with a guy who had plopped down next to us. My mother started it by offering him a drink. Soon after that, we were dancing to 'All You Need Is Love,' my leg dragging behind me. Although he seemed nice, I'd had enough for one night. He ended the evening by asking if he could see me again. I explained to him that I was only in for the weekend and told him that he'd have to ask my father. To my shock, my father said yes. (I am in my early 30s, but Dad hasn't quite gotten used to the idea of his baby dating. I was sure he wouldn't consent.) Mom, for her part, took me to Walgreen's for a beige ankle bandage that wouldn't show as much and polish to paint my toenails.

The next day he arrived at the door of my parents' house, driving a beat-up, duct-taped car he'd gotten as payment for a painting job. Yes, he was a painter -- not the artistic kind as I'd thought, but the wall-painting type. We sat in the living room and he and my mom talked. I wasn't sure of his age, but he looked at least mid-40s and not aging gracefully at all. In fact, I took him for closer to my mom's age because they seemed to have so much in common. She had all but hired him to paint our house when I yawned and said that we'd better get going. I'd heard enough, and wanted the evening to be over already. Besides, he was giving me the creeps being so buddy-buddy with my mom.

We drove to the restaurant in his incredibly depressing car. Once there, he threw out some of the usual lines ("It looks like there are stars in your eyes" and other such garbage) and finally asked what I thought of his hair. My stomach sank. It was the worst hair I'd ever seen. It was slicked up in a pompadour, and his face was fat and most unattractive. It wasn't Elvis hair, it was Elvis impersonator hair.

"Well," I said, trying to think of something polite, "at least you have hair at your age."

Evidently he was very proud of his do. He told me about his love of the Stray Cats (he always wanted a Stray Cats tattoo but feared the pain), his hair, his one girlfriend who went on to marry a creep, his hair, his painting and plastering career, his hair, journeying to Graceland and, lest we forget, his hair.

We ordered, then started eating. Then he dropped the bomb. "I'm 39 and I'll be 40 in November. Last year my old man told me that if I wasn't married with a child on the way by the time I was 40 I'd be disinherited."

I flagged the server. "Check, please," I whispered. We drove home in silence and he left me with a mercifully dry and quick goodnight kiss. Despite my still-swollen ankle, I ran into the house and locked the door.

He never did call my folks about painting their place. The next month, on the anniversary of Elvis' death, my mom called me and asked if I'd heard from "that adorable guy with the hair." I told her he was probably in Memphis, paying his respects.

-- Eve M. Bohakel

Heaven: Saved by (the other) Elvis

Online he seemed like all the hipsters I knew in Washington, D.C. -- an ironic beer drinker in an obligatory post-master's-degree funk. I figured he'd find me too shy or not hip enough for him, with my dulled-down "office friendly" wardrobe and my exasperation with sneering, mid-20's slackerdom.

But I dropped him a line because I sensed that I would be missing something if I didn't, and what harm would come from rejection by a stranger only abstractly linked to me through the ether? We agreed to meet at a bar around the corner from my office.

In person, he was nothing like the coolie-cool guy he played online. He was sweet and shy, and admitted that his ad had been something of a joke. He seemed content just being, and I was relieved to not have to make small talk. His prematurely graying hair made me swoon. He played an Elvis Costello song on the jukebox. He walked me to the bus stop at the end of the night and gave me hug.

Two nights later I was out with another guy from the same site. He bought me sushi and talked about art history (two of my favorite things), but the vibe between us fell flat. He seemed nervous and insecure. But I agreed to grab a nightcap with him at a bar in my neighborhood.

The guy from before was there, drinking with a friend. I wished I could be with him. I played the same Elvis Costello song on the jukebox that he had played on our date. He got the message, sent like some sort of postmodern smoke signal into the night. We've been together ever since.

-- Katherine Fried

HELL: I did a bad, bad thing

I like to read the personals, make a decision and ultimately do the contacting. Oh, I've had a number of men e-mail me, and most have been very nice, but I'm pretty clear about what I like at age 49. So, there was this great profile. He was 51, an executive, he lived in the city I grew up in, he was wearing a tux in his picture. I loved his "_____ is sexy; ______is sexier." He sounded wonderful.

I sent him a "I really like your profile" response, and he wrote back. He was an entertaining writer and could ease into sexy better than anyone I had ever met. He was charming right from the get-go. We began talking on the phone almost immediately. We sent each other interesting things -- DVDs, books, CDs, sex toys, underwear. It was all so much fun.

I loved this guy ... theoretically. His sexual imagination was unsurpassed. We could talk for hours, and he had a wonderfully intelligent, articulate, sensual voice. He really should be on radio, not in television as it turned out he was. He told he had been waiting all his life for someone like me. He made it clear that he would be upset if I were to go out with anyone else. Go out with anyone else? No way, this guy was all I needed! He used the L-word and was truly sincere and kind.

Our conversations continued for several months. We were too busy to travel and meet in person. But we made plans for him to come to my house for Thanksgiving. But as the day approached, I began to have misgivings. He would disappear for days at a time without calling. When we'd be on the phone for long stretches, there would be dozens of call-waiting interruptions. And the fact that he spent long periods of time signed on to the personals really made me wonder.

All of the above pushed me to do a very bad, bad thing, of which I'm not proud.

I created a fictitious personal ad and sent him a response. He replied almost instantly. He sent pictures, he made plans to meet her, I mean me, for dinner. I didn't want him to come for Thanksgiving. He got sick and didn't show anyway. I asked him if he still responded to women in the personals and he replied: "I do not have any romantic or physical relationships with any other woman, on any level." I knew better but couldn't bring myself to confess. But for reasons I can't explain, I allowed things to continue.

He continued to disappear, he continued to spend time on the personals. I needed to get out of this, but he was so persuasive and charming. I liked so much about him.

Then I did the other bad thing, or the same bad thing again.

I created this fabulous woman. The celebrity she resembled was Sophia Loren, she was a professor of history in a city near his, she was smart, very sexy, erudite, intellectual, funny. She loved lingerie and shoes  and she was married.

You guessed it, he responded. He IM'd her -- I mean me -- and they/we talked for 45 minutes. He gave her/me his number, she/I called him and left a message, except it was a friend of mine who did the talking. He called her back. He told her he thought they were mental equals and had a lot in common. He asked her about sexual things. He was a lyin' weasel.

I told him he was dishonest and that it was over. Hey, I know, I know I was dishonest too. Right to the very end though, in the very last e-mail he said, "I was faithful to you for six months and I never even met you." That's when it hit me: He never intended to meet me. He's a personals junkie. He's a troll.

I spent a little time researching pathological liars and other various psychotic disorders and came to the conclusion that I was a fool. I became more dishonest than I can remember ever being. I deleted all personal ads and finally I understand that this guy, who seemed so heavenly, was a pathetic, sleazy, middle-aged loser.

-- Pamela Root

By Salon Staff

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