LAS VEGAS, Nevada – Almost 2 years to the day I was back here in Las Vegas for the CES, The Consumer Electronics Show, the World’s Largest Trade Show (140,000 attendees and 1.8 million square feet of exhibit space with over 2,700 exhibitors).
Now the CES is THE center of the Universe for 4 days every January. This is where the new technology of consumer electronics is introduced and hyped. Many of the gizmos and gadgets trotted out at the CES in January make their way to market sometime in the months that follow.
Because the CES is such a big deal it is the place to see and be seen. Celebrities galore are there either as spokespeople for the various companies or as attendees themselves. In years past I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Joan Jett, David Ortiz, Michael Irving, Randall Cunningham, Marcus Allen, Jackie “The Joke Man” Martling, Mathew Polk, Michael Douglas, Donny Osmond, Jon Anderson of Yes, Little Steven, Todd Rundgren, Cal Ripken Jr., Brian Williams, Yoko Ono, Herbie Hancock, Gallagher, Roger Staubach, Gene Simmons, Snoop Dog, Tommy Shaw, James Young, Darryl “DMC” McDaniel, Jane Wiedlin, Terry LeBonte and Sinbad to name a few.
I have been able to talk to and actually hold a somewhat relaxed conversation with most of these people. All of the aforementioned celebrities were gracious and friendly and I was more than a little star struck with each and every one of them. However, my celebrity radar went into complete overload when one person in particular caught my attention.
Here I was with my cousin Scott and friends of mine Jon, Mike and Lee; we were standing in line at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Day 1 of the show waiting for the doors to open. Us and 140,000 other people, or so it seemed. We were standing there in the bright Nevada sun. A cool morning, but clear as a bell!
Buses, cabs and limos were there by the hundreds dropping off their passengers and fares. I happened to look up and about 50 feet away a Mercedes Limo pulled up and out stepped a gentleman, wearing a plaid shirt, tan dockers, reddish hair, which was a little mussed up, and wire rim glasses that he was just putting on.
My star radar went up and I realized in an instant that Bill Gates was strolling, rather quickly, into the Las Vegas Convention Center to get a preview of the CES!
I broke ranks with my friends and ran full tilt toward Bill Gates, thinking that I was not going to blow my chance at meeting the Richest Man in the World! A billionaire! Mr. Microsoft!
In the few seconds that it took to cover the 50-odd-feet between Bill Gates and I, everything became a blur. Time stood still. Nothing else seemed to matter anymore. The air took on freshness like I’ve never experienced before. Birds sang a little louder and the sky seemed to never end. But I digress.
I got to within 3 feet of the Richest Man in the World when I was stopped, with extreme prejudice I might add, by one of Mr. Gates’ security people, complete with ear phone!
After putting his hand on my chest and telling me “to relax,” I was able to ask Bill Gates a question, before being hurriedly ushered back from whence I came.
I walked back to my crew, rather sheepishly, after being so star struck and smitten with Bill Gates just moments before.
My brush with greatness was short lived as I was met with utter disdain and embarrassment from my buddies; with Mike exclaiming, “That may have been the greatest act of self indignation and personal embarrassment I have ever witnessed!”
Scott, Jon and Lee voiced similar opinions concerning my pride and self-worth. They have never let me forget that day, but neither have I!
Oh, and what was the question that I posed to Bill Gates, the Richest Man in the World?: “Hey Bill, How’s it goin’?”