Earlier this week, on April 23, I got an email from Steve Larsen in Utah, saying “My momma went to heaven on Sunday. I thought you might like to read about her.” He gave me a link to her obituary. She was a remarkable woman, and I’ve included the link to her obit at the end of the newsletter.
Steve’s email got me to thinking: you might enjoy hearing about this “Steve Larsen,” the one who lives in Utah, and why he was writing to me. Steve is an interesting man and this is a fun story.
Over twenty-five years ago when the Internet was heating up and tools for constructing web sites were reaching the hands of barely-competent techies, there was a rush to grab and hold website URL’s in your own name. Companies rushed to get URLs like “www.ford.com.” Individuals rushed to get their own names, something like www.pennjillette.com – if you happened to be Penn Gillette, for example, the magician, actor, author and television personality. So, of course, I had to have www.stevelarsen.com. By the time I tried to register it, somebody else already had, and I settled for www.stevelarsen.net, the URL I use to this day. I knew nothing of this other “Steve Larsen” and had no way to contact him to see if I could somehow weasel the more valuable .com URL away from him.
Years went by and I became satisfied with my .net domain name as the .net suffix eventually gained nearly the legitimacy of .com URLs. Then in 2008-2009, I became aware of the professional road racer and triathlon champion, Steve Larsen. Now here was more confusion. Not only did I have to deal with Utah-based Steve Larsen, here was another interloping “Steve Larsen” and this one was a professional athlete and genuine celebrity at that. When Steve Larsen the famous bicycle racer died tragically at 39 years of age, people began showing up at my website, wanting to leave condolences and messages to his family. This confusion caused a good deal of stress, and I began to feel a need to address it.
This was at a point in my career when I was no longer hiding behind large companies like AT&T and IBM but was striking out on my own, My website was becoming important to me. At the same time, the owner of www.stevelarsen.com had started a consulting business. His website had a “contact me” form, so I finally opened up a dialog with him. This Utah-based Steve Larsen had no interest in selling his .com domain name but said he’d see if he could help people mistakenly going to his website when looking for me. A week or two later, he sent me an email, saying he thought he had a fix and asked me to take a look. Going to www.stevelarsen.com, I now saw his consulting website as before, but this time, halfway down the page, he’d put in a largish font: “IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR THE REAL STEVE LARSEN, CLICK HERE” with a link to my website.
It’s been twenty years since and his website has gone through a host of iterations but all of them have had some prominent link to my website, right near the top. With deeds counting more than words, Utah-based Steve Larsen cemented his place in my head as one of the more generous and gracious people on the planet. I’m not sure how it happened next, but an email relationship formed. Soon we were on his family’s Christmas card list, and then one day, I opened a beautiful card to see we’d been invited to his daughter’s wedding. While never meeting Utah Steve Larsen or his family, I felt I owed him a good deal and a card of Congratulations with a nice check seemed appropriate. A month or two later, we received a nicely written thank you card. Maggie and I felt we understood Utah Steve Larsen’s family better and felt honored to connect with them. Roughly a year later we got another wedding invitation from another of Steve Larsen’s daughters and it slowly dawned on us. Steve Larsen lived in Utah. Steve Larsen might be… you guessed it …. a Mormon. I asked Maggie, “How many weddings do you think we’ve signed ourselves up for?” Maggie and I started to giggle and then it escalated to full-on laughter. We couldn’t imagine what these children of Utah Steve Larsen thought about the identities of these disembodied Larsen’s in Phoenix, Arizona, but once on the list, you weren’t getting off.
In the ensuing years, we’ve gotten to know Utah Steve Larsen and his family through periodic emails and Christmas newsletters. We know Steve loves to fish and is famous for his smoked trout. We’ve read and marveled at their family’s ice fishing trips and loved seeing photographs of their great-looking children as they grew. Knowing we lived in Phoenix, Steve was aware there was a new Mormon Temple being built not far from us, just off 59th Avenue in Glendale, AZ. He arranged VIP tour tickets for us. We’d never seen anything like it. It was beautiful with amazing architecture and the people were super nice. We loved seeing it.
The story mostly ends there, except that a couple of years ago, Steve wrote he was planning to visit Phoenix for business and could we meet? Maggie and I finally met Utah Steve Larsen face-to-face and found him to be as tall as I am short. He’s a wonderfully warm human being and it was so much fun to share stories of our families, careers, and everything else. I find connecting with other human beings one of the most meaningful parts of my life and that some of these chance meetings and odd connections have been the most rewarding.
Here is the link to the obituary of my friend, Steve Larsen’s, mother. A quite amazing woman.
Here is a link to www.stevelarsen.com, where you will find the most current iteration of Utah Steve Larsen’s notice on how to reach “the other, Steve Larsen.” It is reproduced below: