Holiday Party: Was Woz actually dating her?

A holiday story (fictional) about the real-life relationship between Woz and Kathy Griffin.

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We all have our strange holiday party memories (like watching a coworker drunkenly sing "I Touch Myself" at the office karaoke party). Mine, however, has to be a few years ago in southern California. I was driving a rental car when the front tire had a blow out. After skidding to a halt at the side of the road, I inspected the damage. Barely a tire left and even the rim looked damaged. Sighing and cursing the rental gods, I grabbed my iPhone and dialing the rental company's roadside assistance line.

After an eternity on and off of hold, I was told an agent with a replacement car would be there "soon" – asking what "soon" meant, I was informed it could be as long as two hours. After a polite uttering a polit "thank you" and some more cursing at the rental gods, I sighed and looked to see if there was any place to wait. Across the street, I spied a Bob's Big Boy.

As I trudged across the street, I noticed several Prius' in the lot. Feeling slightly guilty for not making quite such a green choice a couple of months earlier when buying a new car, I pushed the door open and promptly stared slack-jawed at the sight in front of me.

Several people were motoring around the place on segways. Many appeared to be trying to dance while moving to and fro. I wasn't sure what to make of this. Some strange holiday party? Maybe a company that sold segways trying to convince last minute shoppers they were a good Christmas gift?

Then I noticed that they were all wearing identical shirts. A segway polo team? I shook my head, having never quite understood the concept of segway polo (or polo in general – but that might have been because of too many forced games of water polo at summer camp). Still shaking my head, I ventured inside and that's when I saw him… looking almost like a geeky Santa: Woz.

Trying to wrap my brain around this new information, I remember thinking it was a crazy coincidence since I'd just finished his autobiography "iWoz" on the plane from New York. I reached into my laptop bag for it. Could I actually get him to sign it? I felt like some dorky teenager waiting in line for Leonard Nimoy's autograph at a Star Trek convention (and, having been that dorky teenager, I knew exactly what it felt like).

Then I heard a loud and somewhat obnoxious woman yelling for her boyfriend to come eat with her. I looked into the corner to see a red-haired middle-aged woman gesticulating at him with disapproval while an elderly woman tried to get her to stop.

It took a minute to interpret this, but I then I recognized her as Kathy Griffin – the loud mouthed comic turned reality TV persona who was allegedly dating Woz. I shook my head. Could they really be a couple or was it just a publicity stunt of some kind? The idea of them as a couple seemed slightly absurd, particularly witnessing this encounter in person.

Woz stopped his segway dancing and motored over to her, amid some complaints from his teammates. I slowly followed, having been reduced from self-respecting journalist to utter fanboy. I tried to politely interrupt but couldn't get a word in (neither could was for that matter). Ultimately, the older woman (who turned out to be her mother Maggie) gestured me to sit next to her.

I told Maggie what happened to the car and how much I wanted to meet Woz while I had the chance. She told me that sooner or later her daughter would calm down a bit. Then she pulled a box of wine out of her purse and offered me some. With two hours to kill, I figured why not.

Kathy saw the wine, had a couple of choice words with her mom but introduced herself. Now just inebriated enough, I asked her to introduce me to Woz, saying I was a big fan. She politely obliged but made some joke about her billionaire boyfriend have more fans than her. Again I wondered if they were really dating, but was rather afraid to ask.

Ultimately, I got my chance to talk with Woz, who was completely humble and adorable. He signed the book (and the back of my iPhone). He even let me have a spin on his segway. The party broke up shortly thereafter and I was left to eat lunch, sober up from the wine, and wait for the rental agent.

Woz has since married someone else. I still don't know if he and Kathy were actually dating (though the encounter did get me to watch her reality show trying to figure it out).

Ryan Faas writes about personal technology for ITworld. Learn more about Faas' published works and training and consulting services at www.ryanfaas.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryanfaas.

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