ALS Ain’t Elvis, but It Sure Can Seem Like It Is
The 1987 song “Elvis Is Everywhere” by Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper asserts the omnipresence of Elvis Presley. Despite the first-glance outlandishness of the song’s premise — fittingly, the single is found on the album titled “Bo-Day-Shus!!!” — I am sympathetic to its construct. The idea of an all-pervasive force occasionally haunts me. ALS can feel like it is ubiquitous.
Clearly ALS has inhabited me. But is it an around-the-clock, all-consuming presence spun into every fabric of my existence? Perhaps an examination of the song can shed some light.
The Nixon-Roper duo lyrically makes the case for a preternatural Elvis. The evidence they cite is compelling. So much so, that by emulating their logic trail, a tongue-in-cheek analysis of the possibility of an ethereal ALS may be made, through comparison to everlasting Elvis.
Nixon and Roper first observe Elvis in clothing, specifically jeans. Curiously, today I am sporting a sweatshirt with “End ALS” emblazoned on the front. I own a T-shirt from a fundraising team that I captained, containing the words “Kiss My ALS.” I also am wearing an elastic ALS awareness band on my right wrist. But the song makes no mention of accessories, and I have no pants with any linkage to ALS, so it’s Elvis one and ALS zero.
The next test is food. The song claims that Elvis is in cheeseburgers and Nutty Buddies. Ironically, owing to ALS, I cannot safely ingest either esoteric menu item. ALS falls short again.
The composers attribute mysteries of architecture to Elvis. The Great Pyramids and Stonehenge? Presley built them. While ALS is featured prominently in the names of multiple associations, organizations, and institutions, it has never, to the best of my knowledge, fabricated anything out of bricks and mortar. ALS fails to pass muster.
According to the lyrics, Presley is also responsible for unexplained phenomena. The Bermuda Triangle? Well, “Elvis needs boats.” By and large, ALS remains an unexplained phenomenon on its own accord. I may be guilty of splitting hairs, but being an enigmatic occurrence is not the same as actually causing one. Besides, the sheer silliness of the title “Commodore ALS” renders this an indefensible position.
Mojo and Skid also point out that Elvis occupies space within alien beings. Audio forensic science demonstrates this to be impossible for ALS. Every depiction of extraterrestrials I’ve ever seen — from Mr. Spock to ET, to Elvis impersonators themselves — show them to be fully articulate. Contrast that with ALS-speak, in which “take me to your leader” can be heard as “maybe do newer leap year.” Evidently, ALS does not possess otherworldly creatures.
Messrs. Nixon and Roper conclude that Darwin‘s theory is more aptly spelled “Elvislution.” Therein lies the most drastic difference between Elvis and ALS. ALS is solely devolution. No one survives, not even the fittest.
There is one problematic category that I cannot definitively resolve. The ballad flatly states that Elvis may be found in moms. My mother was adopted, making this an entirely circumstantial judgment for me. During her life, she exhibited zero ALS symptoms. When my mom was 15, she had a reunion of sorts with her birth mother. I can only assume that — even in Oklahoma in 1947 — had there been any known family history of ALS, it would have been disclosed.
My takeaway from this impromptu exercise is that ALS isn’t everywhere. It is merely an episodic imposter. Certainly that was the case immediately following my diagnosis. While my initial symptom list was measured, I psychosomatically experienced the whole enchilada of the ALS fury.
After the early post-diagnosis hysteria passed, sanity prevailed. Still, there would be spans of time during which I’d swear that ALS was everywhere. I have the physical and emotional scars to prove it.
These days, I have a more mature perspective about ALS’ presence in my life. The wisdom of the Nixon and Roper tandem affirms this realistic outlook. ALS, at its discretion, can be anywhere, but not everywhere. I choose to deal with its random appearances as best I can, and not fret about it when it has left the building.
One final note. The song makes reference to an “Anti-Elvis.” It reveals it to be Michael J. Fox.
Facts are facts. ALS ain’t Elvis. However, I am on constant lookout for anything hinting at any semblance of a disease antidote, even if of the crossover variety. Thus, no surprise, this weekend will find me fervently streaming a marathon of “Family Ties,” “Spin City,” and the “Back To The Future” trilogy.
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