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  • Writer's pictureMike Matson


How did you come to write a column for The Mercury?

It started innocently enough though a Facebook private message. Ned Seaton: “Hey Mike, are you interested in writing a column for us? I just really like your blog.” Me: “Ned, you’re very kind, thanks. Let’s grab coffee or a meal and drill into it a bit. Tuesday or Friday work for me.”


Do you have a day job?

I like to say I manage expectations. The title is Director of External Affairs for the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce. Businesspeople of goodwill earning a living while simultaneously caring about their community. I do most of my work meeting with stakeholders in area coffee shops and restaurants. 


What did you learn from your father?

Two things spring to mind, both indicative of the man. First, question everything. Second, the best way to shine shoes. Set the shoe polish ablaze before applying it.


Book that changed your life? 

Ball Four by Jim Bouton. An iconoclastic big-league pitcher who has lost his fastball, holding on to his career, literally with his fingertips, writes a diary of the 1969 season. “You spend your life gripping a baseball,” Bouton wrote, “and it turns out that it was the other way around all along.”


What do you admire most about your mother?

Her ability to make friends. She has this gift of putting people at ease right away. It’s a skill I have had to force myself to learn and improve upon.


What’s your best talent currently hidden from the masses? 

I do a spot-on JFK. Ask my wife about the time I gave the ‘we choose to go to the moon… not because it is easy, because it is hahd’ speech. 


Most embarrassing moment?

In the second grade, my shoelace broke right as the school bus pulled up. Hopping on one foot, holding my high school aged-Aunt’s hand, I dodged mud puddles from the Rooks County farm house, all the kids yukking it up at my expense. Once on the bus, Aunt Linda repaired my shoelace, and my reputation.


What are your politics?

I used to describe myself as a “Kassebaum Republican.” I have been proudly unaffiliated since the turn of the century.

Any pet peeves?

Just one. Drivers who fail to understand freeway on-ramps are designed specifically for acceleration to freeway speed. 


Ever been rendered speechless? 

Uh, nope. 

What advice would you give your younger self?

Think more about others and don’t drink so much, dude. Oh, and lose the cheesy mustache.


Dream vacation spot? 

The beaches of Fiji, dropping various components of technology in the Pacific en route. My Out-Of-Office Automatic Reply: “Should you need to reach me while I’m on my dream vacation, tough noogies.” 


Favorite bumper sticker? 

Eschew obfuscation.


High school memories?

A couple. I went to high school with Darnell Valentine, who matriculated to hardwood glory at KU and the NBA. At Wichita Heights, Darnell was a better basketball player than me. But I was a better yearbook photographer than him.


Also remember the entire student body turning out to watch a classmate “streak” across school grounds. As the aforementioned intrepid high school journalist, I captured the moment on film. Read recently that same kid now serves on the District Court bench. Youthful indiscretion, your honor?


What do you wish you could do better?

I am not the world’s most patient human being. My wife often reminds me it's a virtue. I wish she didn't have to.


Favorite movie?

The Apartment (1960). Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray. “That’s the way it crumbles. Cookie-wise.”


Do you have a celebrity doppelganger? 

In my teens and 20s with long hair, friends told me I looked like Barry Manilow. Later, as middle age grew closer and the hairline farther away, I was told I was a dead ringer for Joe Montana.


I cannot croon like Manilow or check off at the line like Montana. I do, however, sleep well at night knowing they probably couldn’t write an opinion column for The Manhattan Mercury to save their lives.


Matson's columns appear here... and every other weekend in the Manhattan Mercury.

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