Matt Reeck

Things I Love That Have Nothing To Do With Tyranny


Sae Ah saw him on the first debate. She thought he looked funny.

Sae Ah is two.

She bunched up her lips as well as she could (2-year-olds have really taut skin) and said, “Hmph.”

At first he was the “Hmph Ajoshi”—“ajoshi” being Korean for “man,” but more polite than that, almost too polite for him, something almost like “gentleman.”

Then Jane started calling him Donnie. He’s really Donnie. Donnie, from Queens.

Now Sae Ah, whenever she sees his face, which is often enough, because there are newspapers still in the world, and a computer on in our apartment, when she recognizes him, she says, 
“Hmph, Donnie, hmph.”

Sae Ah knows 99% of what’s going on in any room.

She repeats things that we don’t intend for her to hear. Like the other day, she said, “Sad and confused.” Then we realized one of us had just said that.

She responds to questions too.

But when you ask her a nonsense grown-up question, she’ll either say nothing (a good method for dealing with nonsense) or go, literally, “Blah blah blah blah blah.”

Hillary should have given him the silent treatment. Or blah blahed him.


Yesterday when the Arctic wind fell upon North America, it was windy, cold. Sae Ah’d never experienced cold and wind like that.

We went outside. She squealed with delight and hid her face on my shoulder. “COLD!” she said.

She comes into the room where I’m typing. Sashaying, waddling, gracious and unselfconscious, she says, “Hi, Matty!” No one ever told her that was my name.

Then she plops down next to the bookshelves and starts riffling through her stacks.

Sae Ah looks at 30 or so books a day.

With her, I rotate my 5 stories: the story of her and the raven; the story of her and the chickadee; the story of her and Little Bear; the story of her and the fish named Samantha; the story of 
us and the yellow boat that goes to Ikea.

She says, “Talk ‘Antha, Appa.” So I tell her the story of Sae Ah and Samantha, and how every day Samantha swims around the south island and the north island, and how she gives Sae Ah the 
special gift of being able to swim underwater so that they can swim together.

“And when she swam to the beach, who was waiting for Sae Ah …” I let my voice trail off. “But Mong Mong,” Sae Ah says. (That’s the name of her imaginary dog in this story.)

“But Mong Mong,” I go on. “He was wagging his tail back and forth, back and forth, because he was so happy to see Sae Ah.”


Yesterday I showed Sae Ah the Lou Brock baseball card I use as a bookmark.

I don’t know where I got it. It’s a 1978 card.

I explain to her that he was a great basestealer, and with Ty Cobb and Rickey Henderson, one of the fastest players ever.

Sae Ah says, “Sae Ah big boy like Lou Brock run fast.”

Though she’s sitting, she pushes her arms back and forth like she’s running.

“You already run fast, Sae Ah,” I say.

Then this morning she had my Lou Brock card in hand—“Loubrock, Appa,” she says, making his name into one word, showing me the card.

Then she starts singing the “Bluebird, bluebird, fly through my window” song, but substituting Loubrock for the bluebird.

Loubrock, Loubrock, fly through my window,
Loubrock, Loubrock, fly through my window,
Loubrock, Loubrock, fly through my window,
And bring molasses candy.


Lou Brock batted .306 the year I was born.

Last year, he had to have a leg amputated because of complications from diabetes.

The NY Times says that Mar-a-Lago will be under water during high tide by the end of the century.

Mar-a-Lago looks like the castle of a petty tyrant, a robber baron, or a high schooler from Queens who has suddenly become a tycoon.

When Lou Brock retired from baseball, he became a florist in St. Louis. Then he and his wife started a ministry.

Why can’t Lou Brock be president?

I’d vote for Lou Brock.

I’d vote for a florist over a tycoon.

I’d vote for a one-legged, 77-year-old ex-basestealer, ex-florist, ex-pastor named Lou Brook over a tycoon.

Aren’t the humble meant to inherit the earth?

Does that mean after this election, or after the world war that will kill everyone at the end of capitalism?

I would have liked to have been able to vote for Lou Brock.

If he were President, I’d send him videos of Sae Ah singing songs to him.

I’d enjoy listening to his Arkansas twang.

I’d be happy, and I wouldn’t have to wonder why.

One Idea I Had

If there’s a Muslim Registry, I’m signing up.

It’ll be like a Wedding Registry—the one I never had.

If there’s a Muslim Registry, I’ll say that Matt Reeck is a Muslim name, fool, sign me up.

If there’s a Muslim Registry, I’ll say that my name really isn’t Matt Reeck—my real name is Saleem Ahmed, fool, sign me up.

We’ll all sign up.

It’ll be a Registry of 320 million people.

We’ll all get kicked out, and there will be no one left.

They’re going to pay for my flight, right?

And I get to choose which country, right?

If there’s a Muslim Registry, I’m choosing Bermuda.

(I’ve never been.)

There are Muslims in Bermuda, and that’s OK with them, right?

If there’s a Muslim Registry, we all can’t go to Bermuda.

I call dibs on Bermuda.

You should let me go there. I’ve never been.

If we all go, there will be no one to patrol the borders.

That Great Big Wall that we’ll still be paying for after there’s no country called the US, it will be easy to scale then.

Or maybe we’ll just swim around it, right?

A wall doesn’t stretch forever, fool.

With everyone gone, without the border patrol, we can all come back, happy.

Then if there’s another Muslim Registry, I’ll tell them my name is Matthew Stefan Reeck, it’s a Muslim name, fool, sign me up.

I’ll tell them, no—my real real name is Muhammad Muhammad, like the most common name in the world.  Sign me up.

I’ve got itchy feet.

I’ll request to go to Canada.

I’d like to go to Canada. I have a couple old friends that I’ve fallen out of touch with who live in Canada.

In particular, I’ll say that I’d like to go to Banff, Canada.

I’m a Muslim, I’ll say, and I really need to be among my people in Banff, Canada.

When the ICE guys look at me with suspicion, I’ll say that it might be evident from the way I look that I’m not much of a skier, but for the good of the US, I’ll try to learn, if you send me to 
   Banff, Canada, where I can learn with all the other Muslim skiers with Muslim-sounding last names like Muhammad and Reeck.















Me       In,        that







The day after the election I began #campaignforpublicdecency. I explained it to Jane.  She didn’t say it was a bad idea. But when I asked her to join, she didn’t say yes.

It might have had something to do with the uncertain nature of decency. Teaching decency is a negative education—an education of what not to do. What’s active decency?

The days after the election the café near us rewrote their chalkboard message to read, “We must take great care of each other.” For example, people took more care of others going in and out 
    of doors. There were more thank yous and more patience. I spoke to an elderly woman in the line at Chase Bank—a robber’s den among robbers’ dens. She wished us a happy Thanksgiving, 
    and I repeated the wishes, a greeting that I’ve avoided for years.

Within a week, it seemed like the charm of being nice for no personal reward was wearing off. An old guy on the bus mumbled under his breath about the incompetent driving of our B68 
    driver. (It wasn’t that bad.)

Yesterday, in my neighborhood, a residential neighborhood, I jaywalked in front of a car a quarter block away. The car sped up, honking, and continued honking past the intersection and 
    down the next block. “I just met an angry person,” I said to Jane when I returned from buying apple cider at the farmers market.

It’s hard to prove you’re acting decent. Wasn’t I decent before? Is it possible to be more decent?

High schoolers in Iowa City sat in their school’s hallways with duct tape on their mouths. I assume that was to make sure they didn’t start shouting in pain and frustration. Or it was to show 
    that being decent sometimes means not saying anything at all.

My mother used to say that, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” That worked. Till now.

I try to imagine a mass act of public decency. People together being peaceful and not speaking? People together being visible, in public, and peaceful, and not speaking?