The trouble with air guitar is that no matter how well you can fake it, you’re still only faking it.

People do peculiar things at the gym. Well, at my gym, anyway.

There’s the matron who moans erotically through her half-hour of stretching each morning. The gym-rat who drips sweat on each weight bench he uses, like a Doberman marking his territory. The paunchy, world-weary types who park themselves on the very weight machine I need and commence to doze between sets. And the chatters, voluble (or perhaps hard-of-hearing) sorts who feel inclined to carry-on indelicate conversations with their buddies clear across the weight room: “Mornin’, Roy. How’s that prostate doin’?”

Which is to say, I’ve seen it all – or rather, I thought I had…until the musician.

I discovered him one morning, hovering near the leg press, eyes half-closed, mouth set in customary overbite, and swaying euphorically to the wicked sounds of his…air guitar.

I did a double-take.

“Dude,” I thought, “You’re at least 40 years old and 40 pounds overweight, and you’re standing in the middle of a crowded YMCA, playing air guitar like you’re the coolest thing this side of the lap pool. Stop it before you embarrass yourself!”

But it was too late, of course.

No doubt he was aiming for casual nonchalance, as if a grown man playing air guitar in a weight room was somehow cool, commonplace, normal. And had he been 15, I might have given him a pass. As it was though, it was unsettling, pitiful even. Here was the ridiculously self-conscious attempting to look unself-conscious and failing spectacularly.
“I don’t care if you have Guitar Hero™ at home, and you’re perfecting your technique,” I wanted to say. “I don’t care if your first cousin was Leonard Skynard. There is no band at the Y. There’s no tour bus, no albums, no agents, no groupies. There’s not even a guitar, for Pete’s sake, and the last thing people want to see this early in the morning is a bare-legged Boss Hogg jamming to the sound of…silence.”

But I didn’t say that. Because the thing is…he was OK at it. I mean, as OK as one can be, if you can get past his age and physical condition and the venue and complete, embarrassing inappropriateness of it all. I could practically hear the opening riff of Sweet Home Alabama in my head.

And that’s when it occurred to me: The real trouble with air guitar is not that it’s juvenile or better strummed in private. It’s that no matter how well you can fake it, you’re still only, well…faking it.

These days air guitarists abound, metaphorically speaking. It’s easy to find artifice parading as art in the real estate business.

When you do only three transactions a year while you dabble in a half dozen other “businesses” on the side and still think you’re contributing to the credibility of the real estate profession: Dude, you’re playing air guitar.

When, as broker, you default on your duty to supervise and mentor your agents because, “They never listen anyway.” Dude, that’s air guitar.

When you tell clients what they want to hear rather than what they need to know: That’s air guitar.

When you prostitute your professionalism with clownish advertising gimmicks: Air guitar.

When you accept an overpriced listing just to get a listing: Definitely air guitar.

Ditto failing to reply to emails or embrace new technologies, generally considering your own interests before those of your clients, and treating real estate as a pastime rather than a profession.

What I’m talking about is pretending at professionalism rather than practicing it – the difference between hanging out at the gym and working out at the gym; between miming Santana with empty hands and making real music; and yes, between having a real estate license…and having a career.

Sadly, some folks still do peculiar things in real estate, too.

VAR’s CEO Scott Brunner is rumored to be a half-decent air-trombonist. Email him at scott@varealtor.com.