I grew up with this kid. He was one of my greatest friends “growing up” during some really important years. This kid and I would dress up as super-heros and run through the mall. We would set up LAN parties and game until we passed out in a hallway. We would have hour long discussions about The Legend of Zelda; Ocarina of Time was the best game ever. We’d play at the park at night, trespass and tell the cops we were Zombies. We’d have Ninja Turtle pizza parties. We’d have super-soaker wars. We’d spend hours at Denny’s drawing and playing with legos. We’d spend hours going through old action figures and playing NES games. One time he got really drunk, asked me to shave his head, and ran naked into neighboring dorms pillaging their beer and snacks. We’d have comic book debates for hours. This kid was the personified Ninja Turtle Michelangelo, and it’s only fitting that his name was Micheal. Some knew him as Mike Pandel, others as Triforce Mike, a force within the nerd community. I just knew him as one of my greatest childhood friends and adventure partners. Mike was taken away from us several days ago by a senseless bicycle accident. As his friend and a fellow cyclist, I’m still processing all my feelings towards this.
There is no doubt Mike is loved by so many. This is prevalent in all the love that has flooded his Facebook and other forums in the days following his departure to a place I can only hope is similar to Hyrule. Everything that can be said, has already been said dozens of times by everyone that knew him. It’s worth repeating because he is so deserving of it. He’s friendly, intelligent, passionate – and what makes him truly unique to many, is that he is undoubtedly his own person. Never worried about what anyone thinks, he is one of the most care-free individuals I have ever met. He is extremely contagious. Hanging out with Mike was sort of like taking a warp whistle to a different land. One that was fun and innocent. This is a rare quality, I feel, and absolutely Mikes best. It’s hard to write coherently about losing someone. I could ramble forever, and fill this blog with sad recollections and pictures and videos. Mike would hate that. Mikes true goal in life was to just be happy, and have fun, which is a thought process that I definitely share. So, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that with every Zelda game I play, with every comic book I read, every pizza or dorrito I eat, every convention I attend, every action figure I touch, every bike ride I take – Mike will be at the front of my mind. He will never truly be gone. I think there is something extremely special about keeping someone so close in that respect. How someones departure can change you in such a way, for the better.
I cant convey how much I will miss you or how appreciative I am to have known you. There is no measurement for feelings like these. I just hope you’re in Hyrule, eating pizza and drinking beer. Naked.