These days I expect to be able to find information on anything on the web.
Which animals can see in color?
Google's top result has a decent answer at this page.
Who will historians say is the worst U.S President of all time?
Once again, Google's top result has an answer. (Clearly they've misunderestimated him)
Which blog is seemingly the best place to go for information on the URL www.suckme.com ?
Other things can't be found on the web. Sometimes I google for people of importance in my life and I'm aghast at how little information I can find. I had that experience today while searching for the name of one of my best friends in high school, Steve Genard. Steve died in 1992 and I think of him often. Here's my tiny contribution to making his presence on the web a wee bit larger.
My high school was a fairly conservative place with traditional cliques and the usual reasons why some jock might beat the crap out of you. Like most high schools, it wasn't a very good place to be different from the crowd.
Steve was different though. He was, I believe, the only gay boy in that school who made no attempt to hide it. Even though we lived in a suburb of San Francisco, being openly gay in high school in the mid 80's was tough business. Steve, however, was talented, brilliant, and outgoing enough to engender respect or at least grudging tolerance from his classmates.
My favorite memory of Steve was when he auditioned to be on Wheel of Fortune. This game show, for those of you who are unfamiliar with Vanna White, is basically a souped-up version of Hang-man. Contestants take turns trying to figure out a mystery phrase by guessing which letters appear in it. It's not rocket science, unless your rockets are made out of playdoh.
Steve, being a word aficionado, took an analytical approach to his audition. He decided to become the most-skilled Wheel of Fortune contestant of all time, and he had the intensity and drive to pull it off. Steve spent weeks amassing huge lists of possible answers to Wheel of Fortune puzzles. For example, many of the answers are phrases, so he gathered lists of common phrases from phrase books and other sources. He then organized his lists of phrases into groups based on the number of words in each phrase. Next, he'd memorize them, noting the number of letters in each word.
It got to the point where you'd quiz him and say something like "3 words. 4 letters, 5 letters, 4 letters" and he'd respond with "Home sweet home!" It was remarkable.
Sadly, he came down with a terrible cold on the day of his audition and despite doing very well at the mock-game, was not able display his usual exuberance. He did not appear on the show. Some have theorized that he was too dominating at the game during the audition, while others believe that he just seemed too sniffly. We'll never know for sure.
Steve's main interest was singing. He was an accomplished vocalist who had appeared in a number of community musicals. Anytime I went somewhere in his car, he was blasting music by either Karen Carpenter (whose voice he thought was pretty much perfect) or the Manhattan Transfer or something similar. This sounds like hell on earth, but it was pretty entertaining. He'd constantly be listening, rewinding, imitating, rewinding, practicing, etc. He paid far more attention to the stereo than driving the car. For him the steering wheel was mostly a percussion instrument.
I sometimes wondered why Steve liked to hang out with me. He seemed so vibrant and unique and I felt so very ordinary next to him. There were plenty of zanier people than me in his life, and certainly some gayer ones, but somehow I got blessed to be his friend. Man, I hate that word "blessed", but there it is. Can't find the backspace key.
Steven A. Genard died of AIDS at the age of 25. I hated Hated HATED seeing him in the hospital in the months before he died, but those images haven't replaced the plethora of vivid memories I have of him. I'm thrilled to report that his memorial service is the only one I've ever had to attend. Somehow, amazingly, in my nearly 40 years of life, he's the only person who died on me. None of my other close friends and family members have put me through that. (Thank you!)
After Steve's death, his mother, Marsha, helped create The Genard AIDS Foundation which provides hospice care for people with AIDS. Nowhere on their website, however, will you find Steve's Boggle secrets. I'll take those to my grave.