Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I think I stood next to David Byrne on an elevator tonight!

The Broad Contemporary Art Museum Opening At LACMA

Tonight, I was riding the elevator in a older Chelsea building. Nothing special about that. I rarely look at the people who surround me on a crowded elevator, especially during "rush hour"--all I can think about is getting home on the subway in one piece. This night, of all nights, would prove to be different.

There were three people (including myself) waiting for the elevator to arrive: me, the "suit," and the man wearing a t-shirt. I remembered the t-shirt more than the suit. Not because I prefer cotton over polyester (which I do) but mainly because the man wearing the t-shirt was holding three shopping bags, including one which may have contained his dinner for the night.

When the elevator arrived, the suit walked on first (chivalry is dying) then I assume that the t-shirt will follow the suit. Instead, he motions over to me and insists that I walk on first (but not dead yet). The suit quickly hits "4," I stretched out from the back of the elevator to reach "8," and the t-shirt hits "7."

As we're slowly bumping up floor by floor, the t-shirt turns to the suit and says, "Wow, that is some strong, flavorful gum there." The suit laughs. I give a smirk on the outside, but I laugh hysterically in my head. "It's strawberry and lime," the suit replies to the t-shirt. "It really does smell like sugar-coated strawberries," I think to myself.

We arrive at "4" and the suit quickly leaves the elevator with great relief. Once the door closes, the t-shirt turns to me and says, "Boy, that was some strong gum, huh?"

"I can still smell it all over," I respond. I looked at him again after saying it. Despite the scruffy beard and the dark-framed eye wear, I recognized that face. I knew that I was familiar with that toothy grin and the spiky hair--despite its grey, near-white state. And then images of "the big suit" and the "Once In A Lifetime" video popped into my head. "This is David Byrne!! I'm sure of it!!" thinking to myself.

I never received confirmation of his "true" identity (didn't want to scare the man). Once the elevator made it to "7," we parted ways. "Have a good night," he says. "You do the same." And that's it.

Perhaps I should have said something "more real" to him. I wish I had told him that I was a writer or that I loved his music for years or asked about a Talking Heads reunion. I wish I could have talked more about the music that inspired him growing up and asked him what he thinks about the music industry today. But then I thought, just like me, he's also looking forward to enjoying his shopping bag filled with groceries, trying to put an end to another long day.

David Byrne, if you're out there and happen to read this, thank you for your music--and for proving that chivalry is not dead.

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