I'll try to get through this without all of the usual Elvis puns.
After all, wise men say only fools rush into that kind of stuff. Anyway, here we go:
On a Saturday in late August, a big crowd partied the night away at the OK Corral restaurant and bar in Pioneer. Pioneer is a small community along Highway 88, about 15 miles east of Jackson in Amador County.
While customers danced inside, someone jitterbugged away with restaurant owner Bud Ford's life-sized Elvis Presley statue that greeted folks outside the bar.
Ford figures it took several people to load the statue so quickly and quietly.
"They grabbed Elvis from right out in front of the building, and nobody saw it," he said.
The Amador Ledger-Dispatch newspaper reported the theft Sept. 3. A Sacramento TV station also aired a report.
These thieves aren't exactly original. Google "Stolen Elvis statue" and you'll find one swiped in July from the roof of a diner in Maryland and later found in a cemetery. Another resin Elvis theft resonated media coverage in England.
Deposed former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich once owned a life-sized Elvis statue, but it was sold at auction for $20,500 when his campaign fund failed to pay the bill for a storage facility in Chicago. The disgraced guv himself was deemed by critics as perhaps the worst Elvis impersonator of all time.
Regardless, Elvis statues do have some value to collectors, whether they're collected legally or illegally.
Last week, a reader contacted Bee religion reporter Sue Nowicki, who recently wrote about the theft of the bell that had graced the historic Hickman Community Church since 1891. The reader pointed to an ad in The Bee's classifieds offering an Elvis statue for sale, remembering one had been stolen.
Could it be the one from the OK Corral in Pioneer?
Several other people who also saw the ad called Ford. But after a few minutes on the phone with Modesto's Earl Phelan, who owned this Elvis and placed the ad, Ford determined it wasn't the same.
So much for amateur sleuthing.
First, Ford's missing but large-as-life Elvis sat while playing the guitar. He bought it at an Ernst Auction in Modesto about four years ago, giving his Blues Brothers statues some company.
Phelan's Elvis is of The King playing a guitar and dancing with knees and toes pointed inward.
Yes, this Elvis is gyrating as if gearing up for the trademark pelvis thrust that once sent teenage girls into tizzies and moralists into hissy fits. His act was considered pretty risque for the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Today, they'd call it "jazzercize."
Second, Ford said, "Mine was a full-sized Elvis. The one he had is 3 feet tall."
No matter, Ford said. He wanted it. Phelan asked $395. Ford offered $300.
Sold. A bargain Elvis.
"I knocked about $100 off," Phelan said. "He got a good buy on it."
Phelan said he had recently bought the statue from an antique dealer, who told Phelan he got it from a Las Vegas casino.
"I turned around and re-sold it," he said. "It worked out well."
Ford drove to Modesto last week and took his new downsized statue -- call it "Recession Elvis" -- home to Pioneer.
"It's actually better- looking than my (other) Elvis" Ford said. "It's missing a finger, but I'm working on that."
Phelan said he plans to take his daughter, Paula Tremarie, to the OK Corral soon, to visit with Ford, have dinner and see the statue in its new element.
Ford, meanwhile, believes his original Elvis will return, if only because it's pretty tough to fence stolen Elvis statues through the newspaper classifieds or on the Internet these days. Someone surely would see the ad and call.
Until then, the replacement Elvis will be on the bar where Ford can keep an eye on it.
"I'm going to put him on a pedestal," Ford said.
Jeff Jardine's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Local News. He can be reached at 578-2383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.