The Turtleneck and Jeff

Every time that other company made an announcement, Jeff waited in the wings, sweating, thinking, "It's my time now!" He was tired of waiting. He had his lines memorized. He had quality announcements, too!

But the man in the black turtleneck always showed up -- even when least expected. He always showed up and played his part, and played it well, in that turtleneck and blue jeans. His hair cropped just so, a hint of the hipster added a certain edge to the dork factor. He always showed up, leaving Jeff waiting -- again. The Turtleneck always trumped Jeff's best chances for success.

But one's man's tragedy is another man's opportunity. Wednesday, Jeff was center-stage. He chose his costume carefully, wary of comparisons. Comparisons would be made, he knew, so why not tweak their expectations? He wore black, but it was a jacket instead of a turtleneck. His head was shaved, but he was quite bald to begin with.

That other company had design in its corner. It had slick simplicity and good ideas that people responded to. But when The Turtleneck retired, Jeff knew what he had to do. Jeff's pot was always simmering -- things bubbled, but never quite frothed over, although it’s true that the Kindle was his iPod. But streaming video was an add-on, not a revenue stream. Jeff had ideas, but was unsure how to package them, where to position them, or when. He had a sense of where his business would go, with or without him, and he was going to make damn sure he was along for the ride -- just as The Turtleneck had done at his company. Jeff was going to seize this moment with the kind of bombshell he always knew he'd need to drop. The device, the software, the demand, the market, the momentum, and the timing -- he had it all right now, at this moment. It was his.

The Turtleneck was out of the picture. Jeff was free to be his own man again. Apart from a period as a new-kid media darling in the late 1990s and his periodic text-based announcements to customers, Jeff had remained quiet, partly because he knew that The Turtleneck was the tech world's key celebrity, and he did not want to compete. But things had changed.

On Wednesday, his costume designer and make-up man came in early, following an extended color and fabric consultation earlier in the week. Jeff had a protein shake that was hard to keep down, and stayed on the treadmill until his nausea had subsided. He repeated the phrase "Twenty dwarves took turns doing handstands on the carpet" to limber up his tongue and jaw muscles. A masseuse pummeled his shoulders for a good ten minutes and a voice coach helped him keep his Spanish accent a secret as an ancient voodoo priest anointed him with perfumed oils.

His time was now. He was no longer an understudy. The lights came up, and he walked out to greet the world anew.