Photo by Alina Kovalchuk on Unsplash

What Can You Do For Me

Walter knew his keyboard skills were far superior to anyone he’d ever heard. Going back to that little “Podunk Town” was not an option. The hillbillies in that town didn’t even bother to give him a proper send-off. He’d show them.

Grandiose Sense of Self-Importance

He didn’t want to listen to Dad’s lecture, so he feigned sleep all the way from Winfield, Alabama, where they ate lunch to Knoxville. Talking was out of the question. He was going to Nashville and that was that.

Curled up in the corner of the truck he plotted his next move. He’d been to Knoxville several times over the years. He knew the music scene was hopping. He remembered several clubs around Market Square: Preservation Pub, Scruffy City Hall. His excitement began to build. It wasn’t Nashville, but it would do.

He lay awake as the pickup truck pulled into the Farmers Coop on Ashville Highway. Walter knew there was a Kroger Grocery Store kitty-cornered across the main street, with a Walgreens Pharmacy across the side street. While Dad was inside he quietly opened the pickup door, climbed out and grabbed his things from the back of the truck. In mere minutes he disappeared into Walgreens.

While Dad was finishing his transaction in the Coop, the clerk told Dad he saw somebody sneak out of his truck and run across the street. Dad laughed, “Just my son. I wouldn’t expect anything less.” The clerk gave him a strange look, but Dad didn’t explain. He knew his narcissistic ego wouldn’t allow him to go home and Walter discovered he wasn’t much of a hitchhiker. He thinks he’s better than the rest of us in our little “Podunk Town” as he calls it. We’ll see. At least he’s in a city now and not out in the woods.

Fantasy World

Nobody believed Walter when he said he’d have a high paying gig the day he arrived in Nashville. Dad had heard people say, “He’s just a kid. He’ll learn. He’ll grow out of it.” But Dad wasn’t so sure.

While Dad was driving a truck he didn’t have much else to do at night other than reading. When he went to counseling sessions to help him deal with his wife’s right-fighting he asked for reading material to help him understand.

One of the articles dealt with narcissism. It said that people engage in right-fighting because of low self-esteem. He discovered that people with low self-esteem can also be narcissistic.

Narcissism doesn’t mean self-love, but that they are in love with an idealized, grandiose image of themselves. They’re in love with an inflated self-image because it allows them to avoid deep feelings of insecurity.

Dad could see that Walter was spinning self-glorifying fantasies of unlimited success in Music City. Yes, he was a good musician, but he wasn’t as good as his fantasy of walking into Nashville and blowing the city away with his talent. Anyone that tried to introduce him to reality threatened to burst his fantasy bubble.

Praise and Admiration

Walter got lots of attention in his little “Poduck Town” until he started making noise about being too good for their little town. At that point, the applause and compliments began to dwindle. People resented his attitude.

He needed the applause, recognition, and compliments to help him feel good about himself. It became a never-ending cycle. The more he talked about Music City the fewer ego strokes he received resulting in his needing more. It became not what he could do for his fans, but what his fans could do for him. He began to feel like his fans had betrayed him. When in actuality, he betrayed his fans, but he couldn’t see it.


When Walter left town he knew it wouldn’t be long until somebody from town stopped and offered him a ride. He didn’t need a car, contrary to what his dad said because he was special and the town’s people knew it. They would come to their senses about him once they saw his name all over Nashville. He knew that he knew he was the next big music sensation.

He was thinking, there were still some people in town that knew just how special he was and would stop and give him a ride. But they didn’t. Dad picked him up on his second day.

Lord only knew how many of his fans passed him by while he was walking. He said several times, “I don’t need them. I’ll get some real fans in Nashville.”

As he waited in Walgreens until he saw his Dad’s pickup leave the parking lot, he thought about the last few weeks, the last two days. He became angry. “I’m never going back. They don’t know who I am.”

Walter had enough money in his pockets to keep him going for a while. But, he knew how to make money. He bought a small amp and headed for Market Square where he sat up to play on the street. Both Preservation Pub and Scruffy City Hall were in the square. All it would take would be for somebody from each club to hear him and he’d be on his way.

He drew a sizable crowd. The applause boosted his ego that had drooped a little after the two previous days. He glanced out of the corner of his eye to see the green bills piling up in his keyboard case. He was in with the clubs, he just knew it, until a police officer stopped.

Demeans With Intent to Intimidate

“May I see your permit?” he said.

“What do you mean, permit?” Walter asked sarcastically.

“You have to have a permit to perform on the streets of Knoxville,” the officer said.

“Give me a break. You don’t have to have a permit. I see guys down her playing all the time.”

“I need you to come with me.”

“I’m not going anyplace,” Walter argued laughing at the officer. “You’re not even a real cop. You’re a wannabe cop. I’m not going anyplace with you. Leave me alone.”

Walter hassled and mocked the officer until a squad car pulled up to the square. When one of the officers tried to handcuff him, Walter swung and connected with the officer’s jaw. The other officer grabbed Walter in a choke-hold as the assaulted officer locked the handcuffs in place.  The assaulted officer moved his jaw from side to side making sure it wasn’t broken as they put him in the backseat. One of the officers grabbed his gear, stowing it in the trunk of the police car.

Exaggerated Self-Image

“Do you know who you have in the backseat,” Walter said as they pulled away from the curb.

“No, who?” one officer replied.

“I’m the next Ed Sheeran,” Walter said with a cocky twist of his head.

“Who’s Ed Sheeran?” one officer responded then they both laughed.

At the police station, he was booked for Assault on an Officer, plus not having a permit to play in Market Square. When the booking officer finished with the paperwork and mug shot she turned to Walter.

“If had been a good boy and gotten in the squad car, you’d have had a $120 fine with a permit to play in Market Square. Now, it’s 29 days in lock-up plus a $2,500 fine. From what I see, that’s about what you have in your wallet. At least you’ll have a ‘hot and a cot’ for the next month,” she laughed. “By the way, do you want to make a phone call?”

“No. I have nobody.”

Don’t Fall For the Fantasy

Narcissists can be very magnetic and charming. They are very good at creating a

fantastical, flattering self-image that draws us in. We’re attracted to their apparent

confidence and lofty dreams—and the shakier our own self-esteem, the more seductive the

allure. It’s easy to get caught up in their web, thinking that they will fulfill our longing to

feel more important, more alive. But it’s just a fantasy and a costly one at that. –

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