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Elvisí Opinion # l on the Valentine Family, Zen Buddhism and Leftover T-bone Steak

Nobody asks my opinion around here, but if they did Iíd tell them Basset Hounds are the most brilliant dogs on earth. We could rule the world if theyíd let us. Of course, around here Iím lucky if I get to rule over the oak tree I consider my private pissing post. After all I was the first dog on these premises, and if you ask me that makes me the King. Not to mention the fact that I had umpteen hit records in my other life as a fat man in a white sequined jump suit.

I guess youíre thinking Iím one of those modern day reincarnationists, but Iím not. Iím Baptist to the bone. Give me hell fire and damnation any time over all that new age stuff. Callie Valentine Jones Ė thatís my human mom Ė claims to be Zen Buddhist. Burns candles and chants stuff under full moons and all that mumbo jumbo. But I think thatís because sheís just looking everywhere for answers to all the stuff she has to deal with. Her inconvenient attraction to her almost ex, for one thing.

That would be my human daddy, Jack. They had a falling out over his Harley Screaminí Eagle with the heated seats. Take it from meĖthose seats feel mighty good on a nasty day in January when temperatures in Tupelo, Mississippi (my birthplace, population, 40,000), drop below forty.

Iím partial, myself, to hot weather. Lazy August days like today. Brings out the best in me. I can lie in the shade and let my ears flap in the breeze. Nobody would notice one is longer than the other, which has kept me from winning more Best in Show titles than I care to think about. But whatís a dog show title when youíre already the King?

Back to the ValentinesÖ Callieís Mama is always teetering on the brink of financial doom. Personally I admire a woman gutsy enough to place a fifty dollar bet on a five dollar hand. Itís not as if Ruby Nellís addicted or anything. She just likes an occasional jaunt to Tunica where casinos sprang up out of the cotton patch like strangler kudzu after the Mississippi legislature had a big brain fart and legalized gambling. Thatís all right, Mama! I sang some of my biggest hits in the casinos of Las Vegas.

And then thereís Lovie. Aptly named. Sheís had more lovers than Iíve had fleas. Callie worries needlessly over her cousinís affairs. Any woman who can build a catering business out of recipes featuring whiskey and sherry deserves the motto love me tender. And any other way she wants it.

Some say Callieís Uncle Charlie is the only stable, sensible member of the family. Granted, he is her rock of ages. But let me tell you, before Lovieís daddy settled down to making the dead look like they can sit up and walk over at Eternal Rest Funeral Home (pronounced E-ternal around here), Charlie Valentine was conducting a colorful life that narrowly kept him from singing the jailhouse rock. A man after my own heart. Give him a sequined jumpsuit and some sideburns and heíd still set hearts aflutter, even at sixty-two.

Well, now. Whatís this I hear?

Itíll never make a number one hit record, but itís music to my ears. Callie, calling me to supper. Judging by the smells that have been coming from the grill, Iíd say itís a good leftover T-bone steak.

Thank you, thank you very much. Elvis has left the building.