"Elvis Schmiedekamp Wants You To Be Happy."

Or, at least, that's what the billboard said. Other billboards assured us that Elvis Schmiedekamp was "here for" us, and that he was "listening." They were all over California; it was impossible to escape his watchful eye. But who was Elvis Schmiedekamp? Apparently, he was the smiling middle-aged man pictured on the sign - white, thinning, receding hair, crinkled eyes, cock-sure grin. All right, but who was he really? Why did he care? Was he listening to everything? Did he hear me tell my sister to "go stick her head in a pig?" If he's here for me, can I call him up at three in the morning and ask him to get me some cough medicine?

Unfortunately, the only clue we had was the mysterious acronym "CFB," which was posted at the bottom of each billboard. CFB - Coalition For Bewilderment? Can't Find Bangkok? Chicken Flavored Beer? It was quite a poser.

Then he started invading the airwaves. "Hello," he'd begin. "I'm Elvis Schmiedekamp." He sounded nothing like the other famous Elvises we knew - if anything, he sounded kind of like a dork. He couldn't tell us why his picture was suddenly adorning every major highway in California, explaining that "they said it was a teaser campaign." He said his mom was pleased, though. Well, whoop-de-do. He did at least give us some inkling of how to pronounce his last name - something akin to "Smittycamp," it would seem.

Rumors began flying. He was a new disc jockey. He was running for mayor in Los Angeles. He was the mouthpiece for an alien civilization that was gearing up to take over the planet. He was Elvis Presley, just now returning from the Federal Witness Protection program after having had liposuction, a face-lift, and new vocal cords attached. Or maybe it was just another stupid ad campaign.

On March 14, they finally revealed to us the awful truth: Elvis Schmiedekamp was the head of customer service for California Federal Bank. CFB. He was a bleedin' corporate goon.

They tried to tell us this wasn't so. "Elvis, he's just this guy, you know? A regular guy. He's got kids, grandkids. He's from Texas, but he lives in Sacramento now. He fixes up Ford Broncos as a hobby. Just your every day, normal guy, except that he happens to be the 'living embodiment' of our customer service policies." Great. Now he's an avatar, too.

Never fear, though - Elvis Schmiedekamp has a posse. That's right. All around the Bay Area, intrepid culture jammers are taking to the BART trains and amending the signs to let the public know what ol' Elvis is really up to.

"Elvis Schmiedekamp Folds His Socks."
"Elvis Schmiedekamp: Pretty Ad Whore."
"Elvis Schmeidekamp Is Watching You."
"Elvis Schmeidekamp Belong To Us."
"Elvis Schmeidekamp Voted Bush."
"Elvis Schmeidekamp Knows Your Secret."
"Elvis Schmeidekamp Wants You To Obey Him."

The posse's got a website at http://www.syntac.net/hoax/Elvis/ where you can download your very own Schmiedekamp addition kits. Now, if they could just get him to stop staring at me...