A great man named Sergio Olaguez passed away this week in a tragic accident. He was a good friend to me and practically a brother to a few of my other friends. Today is National High Five Day, which is only too appropriate if you knew Sergio at all. This post is my small way of honoring him in the best way I know how.
I first met Sergio back in 2008 at a Mexican restaurant in Burbank, California after a long day at work and having two cavities filled during lunch. Some coworkers and I had convened for our Margarita Monday tradition when in walked my friend Victor with two guys I didn’t know.
Their names were Carlos and Sergio, two of his best friends that he went way back with. Carlos introduced himself and said he was from the valley when Sergio chimed in to call his ass bougie since only bougie people live in Stevenson Ranch. Sergio offered to buy me a drink which I politely declined since I’d taken some Vicodin. He said, “Girl, why the f*ck are you here if you ain’t having margaritas??” so I explained about the pills, He protested, “Pssssh, come on Vane- that’s it? VICODIN? Stop being a p*ssy and take this beer. But seriously, are you ok?” I laughed at his familiarity. He really was a lot of fun.
I got to know Sergio better over the years as a result of my friendship with Victor and his then girlfriend Leandra, and if there’s one thing I can say about Sergio (and you probably can too), it’s that he was always down for a good time. He was the guy who showed up to a movie theater with a backpack full of Heineken, the dude that was always down to dance and laugh till the crack of dawn. He was the guy that threw a kegger for his son’s second birthday, who’d go back and forth with you about government conspiracies and why reggae is a heaven on earth. He preached the legacy of Che Guevara and took a holistic approach to well-being. Politically and on social media, he was honestly kid of maddening! That’s the thing about Sergio though- you could never deny his passion, or his constant request for high-fives.
The last time I physically saw Sergio was in 2012 when we were paired up for Victor and Leandra’s wedding in wine country. Every memory I have of that weekend is so typically Sergio, from the rehearsal as we practiced walking to the ceremony space through a bunch of grapevines. I tripped on the uneven ground but he caught me before I could fall, saying, “Ok Vane, each time I catch you, you owe me an hour in bed. I kid! I kid! High five!” I burst out laughing and slapped him on the arm, and then of course gave him that high-five. That night when the wedding party played Semi-Strip Flip Cup, he negotiated a surrender to name the girls’ team the winner because he’d gone commando under his shorts. We salsa danced, he made me try Absinthe (yuck), and then we ate pizza and talked about life; before I knew it, it was two in the morning and everyone else had long gone to sleep. The next day at the wedding, I tripped again, and once again he caught me. This time though he said “I gotcha. Oh and hey, you look beautiful.” I, of course, thanked him and smiled. That was Sergio- a lot of antics, a lot of jokes, a lot of shenanigans, but a stand-up guy when he needed to be with a helping hand and a kind word.
I confess that when the news broke of Sergio’s passing, I felt guilty for crying. I felt like I had no right to be so affected when we weren't particularly close. I’m not his mother or his father or his son or childhood companion, I’m not his best friend or his girlfriend, just a friend of a friend and his wife. I’ve realized though, as put by an author I like, that pain demands to be felt. At the end of the day, as we know in our hearts, a loss is a loss is a loss.
So as we mourn the loss of a genuine soul with a profound respect for humanity, of a fierce friend and a proud father, of a kind spirit and a shameless flirt, let us know that while the void is a painful one and the departure so untimely, Sergio’s legacy lives on in the hearts he touched, and in each and every *high5*.
If you can, please consider a donation to help Sergio's family during this difficult time. The following fund has been set up to assist with funeral expenses: Sergio Olaguez Memorial Fund