Soon after the Macworld dinner, Andrew Fluegelman and
I were invited to Steve Job's lavish 30th birthday celebration in the
ballroom of the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. It was to be a
black tie event, only with a twist. Everyone was asked to wear tennis
It surprised me
that outside of John Sculley and a the Macintosh development team there
were few other guests. I felt truly privileged, but also a little sad,
as Mike Murray had recently told me "Steve doesn't have any real
a moment, I wondered if I could be his friend--it would be my mission, I
fantasized, to keep Jobs grounded and just to be there when he needed
someone to talk to. Of course, this was totally ridiculous, and I
didn't do anything to pursue it.
Besides, Steve was late and some of us were speculating as to whether he would even show up.
His absence didn't stop people from having fun. Everyone who came into the ballroom received a glass of campaign, there was tons of food and other drinks, and the place was decorated with Mac and Apple related images.
Oddly, the live music was provided by members of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.
The sight of Andy Herzfeld, Burrell
Smith and the others in obviously rented, ill-fitting tuxedos and
floppy tennis shows made me laugh. It was even funnier though when they tried
to dance to the Straus Waltzes the orchestra was playing.
After an hour or more into the event, Steve made his appearance. He stood with John Sculley for a few minutes and several people walked up to him to wish him a happy birthday. He seemed happy and at the same time strangely distant.
Turning 30 for Steve Jobs must have been like turning 80 for us mere mortals. He was rich, famous, accomplished and had no where to go from here, or so it would seem.
Sculley proposed a toast, calling Steve "technology's foremost visionary." People politely applauded and I assumed we'd get back to dancing, but I was wrong.
Unbelievable as it may seem, Ella Fitzgerald was suddenly standing on the stage with her jazz trio. I was stunned. "Hello," she said, "I'm Ella Fitzgerald and for some reason a young man here wants me to sing happy birthday to him for his 30th birthday."
She seemed genuinely puzzled as to why anyone would want her to do this and presumably pay her a lot of money. And it seemed obvious to me she had no idea who Steve Jobs was.
To Ella Fitzgerald, he was just a rich guy named Steve. Ella sang "happy birthday, dear Steve..." and left. The Orchestra returned with some more Waltzes.
Steve exited shortly after this.
Damn, I thought, no wonder Steve Jobs' reality is distorted.