NEW YORK—A guy carrying a guitar case on a midtown Manhattan elevator was envied and admired by fellow passengers during the entirety of his 14-floor ride, the guitar-case- carrying man imagined Monday.
"These people would kill to be me," the man thought in reference to the well-dressed professionals standing next to him in the elevator. "They see me, this guitar case, my sunglasses, my worn-out jeans, and think, 'Man, here's a guy who didn't sell out and become part of the corporate mainstream.'"
"This poor suit over here with the red tie definitely wants to be me," the guitar-case-carrying man continued in his mind. "From the moment we got on this thing he's been dying to ask me what the life of a musician is like."
According to the man's imagination, his fellow elevator passengers were envious of either his free-wheeling lifestyle; his gutsy decision to follow his dreams—money and so-called success be damned; or the fact that he doesn't give a fuck about shaving and hasn't done so regularly for the past 10 years.
In addition, his brain reportedly wondered if the straight-laced men in the elevator realized he's the kind of guy their wives think about when they're having sex.
"They're all dying to know if I'm a solo artist or if I'm in a band," the man's imagination confirmed as the elevator stopped at the fifth floor, letting on two more passengers he believed were refreshed by the rare sight of a true-blue rock-and-roll rebel in their stuffy office building. "They desperately want a taste of my world: a world without rules where the only thing that matters is where the next gig is, and whether or not the beers are on the house."
"If we had more time, I'd whip this puppy out right now and play a few tunes," his cerebral cortex added. "Heh. I bet that'd make these sorry corporate drones' day."
As the elevator continued upward, passengers made slight throat-clearing sounds and occasional fleeting eye contact with one another, signs the guitar-carrying man took to indicate a major epiphany on their part that they shouldn't have gone to fancy colleges, settled down, and had families, and that they would be better off letting the natural ebb and flow of life take them where it may.
"Even if I told you, you probably wouldn't recognize the names of my musical influences," the man silently responded to a question he felt the woman in the white dress was too embarrassed to ask out loud. "And yeah, I'm mostly self-taught. I learned by tinkering around and trying to find my own sound, you know?"
The man went on to pity the people on the elevator for not being courageous and passionate enough to rip off their ties, throw them on the floor, and walk out of their office building forever. He then reflected on how it must be killing them right now to be like flies trapped in amber, peering out to see a soul, free as a bird, doing everything they wish they could do but are too terrified to even try.
The man proceeded to make a slow, pitying head shake.
"That poor bald bastard in the plaid sweater just looked right at me," the man's imagination continued as the elevator passed the 10th floor. "He wants to be me so bad. He's going to be thinking all day about what a wild, unencumbered spirit he was lucky enough to rub elbows with on the elevator this morning."
"If only these squares knew that, deep down, being creative is a burden in its own way," he wordlessly added. "But shit, I made a deal with the devil a long time ago, and I intend to hold up my end of the bargain. Sorry if you guys can't wrap your little heads around that."
When the elevator reached the 14th floor, the man exited with his guitar case, leaving the remaining passengers to continue thinking what they thought the second he appeared in the lobby: that they had never felt more comfortable in their decisions to have jobs with decent salaries, health insurance, and generous, well-balanced retirement plans.