I was in a bar in New York last weekend and the man next to me looked vaguely familiar.
Glasses, friendly, drinking a lot.
To me, these are all the hallmarks of a journalist. But he might have been a doctor, I supposed.
His first words? "I just can't take it any more. The pressure, the accolades. And all the adulation. Man, have you got any idea how stressful adulation can be?"
He introduced himself as Dan.
He kept talking, either trying to convince me of something or, I preferred, to convince himself.
"Most journalists become famous by sucking up to people. You know, that Bob Woodward, he even sucked up to Bush. But I became famous by doing the opposite. Pissing off one of the only people in the world even more powerful than Bush."
"Oh, who's that?" I said cradling my first drink while he snatched at his fourth.
"Steve Jobs," he replied.
(Well, actually, he slipped a middle name beginning with 'F' in there.)
"Oh," I said. "And why did you do that?"
"Because he's not funny, so someone had to be on his behalf," he said with a large sip. Of scotch.
"So it was charity work?" I asked.
"I never thought of it that way, but yeah. I suppose it was. I mean, the tech world doesn't always have a sense of humor," whispered the man who called himself Dan. "They think they're changing the world, but they don't stop to experience the world at all. They don't stop to enjoy it. Some of them are so unfriendly. Especially to us journalists."
"It can't be easy being a journalist," I ventured. "On the one hand, people are always watching you. On the other, they're always making a show of ignoring you."
"That's it. That's it," he said, spilling his scotch onto his crinkly chinos. "They're afraid you're going to screw them. But, at the same time, they're afraid you've got something, something that they really, really would like to have. You know, like information. Or charisma. Or the address of a really good, cheap lapdancing club."
"Brigitte's," I blurted out automatically.
"You know Brigitte's?" he said, with an unusual lightness.
"No, no. My girlfriend told me about it," I explained.
"Oh....right.." he said, looking momentarily more confused.
Then he changed the subject. "So I'm going to give up being Fake Steve Jobs. I'm going out at the top. Going out while Steve is still alive and my fans still love me."
"But won't you miss it?" I asked.
"Of course I'll miss it," said Fake Dan. "But I've got a more serious job now. I'm going to Newsweek. Before I was merely a soldier of fortune at Forbes."
"So you're going back to being just a journalist? Won't that bore you?" I wondered
"Not at all," he insisted. "All good things come to an end. Then other good things begin."
That's when I knew this Dan was a fake.
The real Dan Lyons would surely want to have kept going. Wouldn't he have wanted to develop the Fake Steve Jobs character? Wouldn't he have wanted to keep on loving his readers to the point of pant-wetness?
I mean, JK Rowling didn't walk away from Harry Potter just because the actor who played him in the movies suddenly went on stage and did some full-frontal scenes with a horse.
When Real Dan was being Fake Steve, this was surely the one time that he could really be himself.
By all accounts, open, charming, uproariously funny.
Which is why Fake Steve Jobs must continue. For Dan's sake as much as the whole tech industry's.
No one with the remotest humanity in tech can allow Mr. Lyons to suffer the remainder of his days being a mere journalist.
Please, Mr. Lyons. Reconsider. Reconsider right now.
Otherwise, Fake Dan Lyons might rear his ugly head again.
And, from my one encounter with his depressing, narcissistic, depressive, downtrodden being in that New York bar, this would not be a good idea at all.