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  • Writer's pictureMike Matson

Sixty Things

Updated: Aug 6, 2023

This column was published August 5, 2023 in the Manhattan Mercury.


Things I miss:

1. Tolerable weather on summer mornings and evenings.

2. Stress-free air travel.

3. Richard Pryor and Robin Williams.

4. Enjoying donuts, cheeseburgers and pizza with impunity.

5. Ferns in ceramic pots suspended from the ceiling by elaborate macramé plant hangers.

6. Friendships from my youth and early career.

7. Fido and Rover, our first two Australian Shepherds (stayed up all night thinking up dog names).

8. The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

9. Shopping malls in their prime.

10. A critical mass of critical thinkers in the legislature and Congress.

11. Casey Kasem’s American Top 40.

12. Playing catch with my son.

13. Pushing buttons that actually depress (See also: toggle switches).

14. Harry’s in downtown Manhattan.

15. My wife, when her professional responsibilities take her out of town.

16. The Dry Look from Gillette.

17. Carly Simon’s songwriting.

18. Radio station call letter jingles.

19. Cars with less intellectual capacity than their drivers.

20. Michael Jackson’s moonwalk.

21. Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum (see #10).

22. The Kansas City Royals winning ballgames.

23. Steve Martin’s white suit, arrow-through-the-head era.

24. Astronauts and the childhood mystique that surrounded them.

25. My grandmothers and their muscle cars (Dad’s mom drove a ’68 Camaro, Mom’s mom, a ’73 GTO, right when I was learning how to drive).

26. Incandescent lightbulbs. Already.

27. Pizza Hut sausage from the ‘70s.

28. Confidence in and predictability of technology.

29. The left foot-driven dimmer switch (see #19).

30. Time that didn’t seem to pass so quickly. We’re five months away from 2024?

Things I don’t miss:

31. Working long days and nights during the Kansas legislative session.

32. Chemical dependency that brought me to my knees.

33. Waiting a week or more to see photographs I took.

34. Lacking the skill to discern the fine line between ambivalence and apathy.

35. Boy George and Culture Club. (Go ahead and tumble for me, I’m ambivalent, leaning toward apathetic).

36. Walter Cronkite’s nightly Vietnam body counts.

37. The Asbury-Wooldridge era of K-State men’s basketball.

38. Waking up with a hangover (see #32).

39. My father’s hard line.

40. The inability to pause television.

41. Deciding between gasoline and food.

42. The uncertainty that precedes learning how to deal with failure.

43. Shag carpet.

44. Not having a relationship with family (again, #32).

45. Gristle-infused minute steaks.

46. The social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

47. The Watergate scandal and its impact on public service as an aspiration.

48. Polyester.

49. Misplaced confidence.

50. The Kansas City Chiefs losing ballgames.

51. Deferring to authority while simultaneously lacking the ability to build and maintain relationships.

52. Circular multi-sport stadiums and their cement-hard Astroturf playing fields.

53. Vehicles without airbags.

54. Obsessing over girlfriends (that pesky #32).

55. Paying bills by writing hard copy checks, inserting them in envelopes, licking them to seal the contents, affixing stamps and pointing a little red mailbox flag heavenward.

56. A car that wouldn’t start unless you primed the carburetor (’73 Pontiac LeMans nicknamed “LeMon”).

57. Having only four television broadcast network options for “content.”

58. Not having access to twice-daily flights to Chicago and Dallas.

59. Frozen Swanson Meatloaf in Tomato Sauce TV dinners.

60. The inability to learn from my mistakes.



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