28 July 2009
A Chinchilla Named Elvis
If you have never held a chinchilla, try to acquire the experience. They are rodents about the size of a small rabbit when fully grown and so unbelievably soft that you have simply never felt anything like it. I suppose this is why they have been turned into coats, but once you have held a living, breathing, heart beating against your hand, tame chinchilla, there is no way you would want to see it's fur on a woman.
Back in the 1950s, it was still common for women to wear furs and our neighbors had tried a chinchilla raising business. Unfortunately having a young girl with a soft heart in the family doesn't mesh well with such a capitalistic enterprise even if the father hadn't decided the upkeep wasn't worth the cost vs. profit margin. The end result, there was one chinchilla left and he belonged to Sandy and Sandy had named him Elvis.
Now in 1958 there was actually a war going on for teenage hearts. Looking back now, you wonder how that could be possible, but you were either adoring of Elvis with "Gotta A Lotta Living To Do" on the 45 player or you obsessively listened to "Teenage Crush" by Tommy Sands. Sandy and I were on the Elvis team. We also operated under that previously mentioned "California Code" ... In private, insane... In public, too cool. So we would sit after school with Elvis the Chinchilla in our laps discussing Elvis the idol.
Now Sandy had something else, an elder sister who had moved away from home and just happened to be a hair dresser. This made it possible for her to look through the shop window to the comings and goings at the coffee shop across the street. I told you that this was a thoroughfare of the stars. Not so much because it was anything more than a suburb, but because it was on the way to somewhere else. Sandy's sister could call home with a who's who of who was dining, most of the time without any rise in temperature other than a "that's interesting". Then there was the day, she called ... ELVIS IS ACROSS THE STREET.
Never have two girls moved the distance of one mile at a full run in order to skid to a stop and nonchalantly walk in (NOTICE: We are nonchalant!!!) to sit at a coffee shop counter and order hamburgers and cokes. Now if there were (Don't Look!) glances at the booth in our, if you strained a bit, diagonal view, we didn't giggle. I swear, WE DID NOT GIGGLE. We smiled and chatted and ate our hamburgers, and then one of the men in the group stood up and came over. He picked up our check and said, "Elvis will take care of this". This gave us permission to really, really LOOOOOOK. We smiled. He smiled (OH MY GOD!! HE SMILED!!!). They left and we went home and petted the chinchilla named Elvis ... A LOT!