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1935 - ON POTENTIAL

Introduction

      On 8 January 1935, twins were born to Vernon and Gladys Presley in a two-room shack in East Tupelo, Mississippi. Because he drew a bad location in the womb, Jesse Garon Presley, an identical twin of Elvis Presley, was still-born. His better-placed twin went on to lead a short but significant life. Jesse was buried in a shoe-box in an unmarked grave by his parents, who couldn't afford the 10 dollars for a doctor, and certainly could not afford the cost of a funeral. The title - Elvis Presley's Twin - is a reminder of how lucky we all are to have led any life at all.

      Despite the fact he never lived at all, Jesse Garon Presley has had a surprisingly large impact. Two musicians have adopted his name, two bands - Jesse Garon Presley and the Percolators and Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes - have incorporated his name, and two books - Elvis' DNA Proves He's Alive [BEENY] and Elvis Presley's Twin, Jesse Garon: The Records Show He Died - But Did He? [KNIGHT] - have speculated about his "life". His "fame" continues. He is a topic of conversation in Jim Jarmusch's 2003 film "Coffee and Cigarettes" and the subject of a song called Jesse in Scott Walker's 2006 album "The Drift".

      About half-way through MY life, in 1970, after teaching Introductory Psychology to two classes of 700 students - 700 day students in the matinee and 700 evening students in the late show - I decided to quit show business. I resigned from my job, got rid of all my possessions, closed down my apartment, and checked into a rooming house in preparation for going off to explore the world. Freedom 35.

One day, I came down to the foyer of the rooming-house, saw a woman standing there, and had the following conversation:
Let me help you wait.
How can you help me wait?
I can entertain you. I can talk. I can juggle.
After some juggling and talking, I revealed that I was a psychologist.
You can see right through me.
My normal response to this was
As a psychologist, I can't see through you any more than an optometrist can see through your clothes.
However, I was feeling a bit frisky that day, so I said instead:
Yes, I can.
She came right back and challenged me.
Tell me something you know about me, on the basis of our short conversation, that a layman wouldn't know.
I said right away when I came down the stairs: let me help you wait. I knew you were waiting.
I'm standing here with an umbrella in my hand, staring out the window. You'll have to do better than that.
She happened to have said at some point in our conversation: Do you have your own bed? She had, of course, meant Do you have your own bath? (Some of the rooms had bathrooms included and in some you had to go down the hall.)
I had responded as if she had said "bath" but, since she had challenged me, I pointed out her Freudian slip. Fortunately the man she was waiting for turned up and, blushing, she went off.

      However, I found myself pondering my usual response. It was ME who should be blushing. After studying psychology for ten years, teaching psychology for five years, writing an introductory textbook to psychology which sold 100,000 copies to unsuspecting students [GARDINER], I was saying and believing that I didn't know any more about people than a lay-person. One theme of my life since then has been an attempt to learn something about people outside the framework of formal psychology. This book could be considered as my progress report another 35 years later.

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