Too Much Fun – Saying Goodbye to Sheldon Salamanca

To most, the image in this post is instantly recognizable as the symbol for the Wu-Tang Clan. The popular rap group from the 90’s. The image may make you think of Method Man, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, RZA, or any of the seemingly endless members of of the group. But if you grew up in Dublin, California in the mid-to-late 90’s, that image makes you think of one person.

Sheldon Salamanca.

Sheldon was in love with The Wu-Tang Clan. Obsessed. So much so that in high school, he would go days where he would only respond to teacher’s questions with Wu-Tang lyrics. In English class one year, he literally drew that symbol daily, on the white board. Our teacher, Ms. Neely would walk to the front of the classroom, shake her head and erase the hastily made mural and request that Sheldon stop his artistic stylings from appearing in the classroom.

Sheldon would just push his ski goggles up a little higher on his head, smile that big smile of his, and say “ok.”

Then the very next day, like clockwork, the symbol of the Wu would be back on the whiteboard, even bigger than the day before. And Sheldon would be smiling, even bigger than the day before. And Ms. Neely would erase it before teaching her lesson, and request that Sheldon refrain from doing it anymore, knowing full well that he would not. I asked Ms. Neely one day, why she never actually punished Sheldon for blatantly disregarding her requests. She simply said, while smiling, “Look at him. He is having too much fun.”

Sheldon and I weren’t particularly close. We had a lot of mutual friends, so by proxy, we would find ourselves around one another in social situations. Whether it be after a our high school football team would lose (which he could care less about because he was busy entertaining himself), or climbing on top of us in the back of another friend’s car because there weren’t anymore seats and he demanded to come along to wherever it was we were going, Sheldon made sure to make his presence known. No matter what was going on, he made sure that he was going to have fun.

Too much fun.

Like most of us do, Sheldon and I lost contact with one another after school ended. We would talk to each other occasionally on Facebook, but we led different lives and had different interests that rarely, if ever, intersected. Until one day I was sitting in the bar, at a restaurant in Fremont, CA and was growing more and more irritated at the loud mouth sitting in the booth behind me. I turned around to confront the man, only to find that is was Sheldon. He was with his friends, laughing, smiling and having fun.

Too much fun.

My mood immediately switched gears and I walked over to say hello. Without missing a beat, Sheldon got up, gave me a humongous hug, and invited me to sit with he and his friends. I was on my way out, so I declined, but we promised to get together soon and do something. I took it as an empty promise. One that people make while trying to be pleasant towards one another and keep the peace. Sheldon did not. He saw it as a promise that was to be honored, and before I knew it, I was hanging out with Sheldon at a nightclub/bar a few Saturdays after our encounter.

Now, it should probably be noted that Sheldon was not a small man. He was rather stalky in high school and like most of us, had managed to find some extra pounds in the years that followed. With that said, I was stunned at how smooth the man was at dancing. As soon as his feet hit the dance floor, it was like watching an Asian Soul Train. Every song that came on, he knew. Every song that came on, he danced to. And as the night wore on, I found myself just staring in awe at how much fun he was having. I was jealous. I am not sure I have ever seen someone have that much fun for that sustained amount of time.

Too much fun.

I only saw Sheldon one other time after that night. It was about a year later at the same restaurant in Fremont. In almost the exact scenario as years before, I was getting ready to leave, turned, and saw Sheldon sitting at a booth with three friends. Laughing and smiling and be annoyingly loud to the people around him who never had the pleasure of knowing him. I thought about going over and saying high, but he was in the middle of telling a story and his audience was 100% engulfed in his words, so I decided to just let him shine. He was having fun.

Too much fun.

Advertisements