Sunday, May 06, 2007


A Seriously Funny Man With No Hidden Talents
By Julie Buntin

As Matt Rasmussen and I entered the stairwell from the library, a blonde girl stopped him with hair falling out of her ponytail. “Hey Matt!” she said brightly, obviously pleased to bump into him.

“Hey,” he said back, “I’m having a party this Friday night. Be there?” His tone carried a note of urgency, which didn’t surprise me in the slightest. I’d read his Spring Break story posted on the MMC Chronicle website, and assumed well before this (our first encounter outside of class), that Matt is the kind of guy who has serious good times, and those good times are probably facilitated by large quantities of alcohol.

The fact that he is having a party this Friday was simply confirmation. Don’t get me wrong. Matt’s no generic, thumbs-up, beer downing frat boy, by any stretch of the imagination (sorry Matt, you‘re not Senor Rock). He just possesses a friendly, open demeanor that immediately puts people at ease.

After our forty-five minute conversation, I came away with one image I think anyone genuinely interested in getting to know Matt would consider valuable. Imagine the following: a huge, fiberglass ice cream cone, tall enough to reach the eyes of a standing Matt (around 5’7 I’d guess) when balanced on its point, and as wide (at it’s thickest place, the top) as the distance between his two elbows, according to Matt’s description.

This item (what shall we call it? Relic? Object of intrigue?) was discovered by Rasmussen on some unspecified NYC side street on some unspecified date within the last month. These factors are not the illuminating ones. What is pivotal for an initial glimpse of Matt’s essential Matt-ness (in my understanding) is that Matt lugged this fiberglass confection to his home in Astoria, Queens, where he is currently brainstorming possible uses for the freakishly large ice cream cone.

A sampling of his current ideas includes; lamp, catcher of power balls (he explained the game, kind of lost me), a place for people to hide, and a prop in a personal re-staging of American Gladiator. Rasmussen is the sort of person who sees the power ball game hidden in the guise of a gigantic, abandoned fiberglass ice cream cone.

Perhaps because this image was a large subconscious force in our discussion, much of our conversation revolved around ice cream. Real ice cream. In fact, by the end, I thought I would go crazy if I didn’t get a cup of Tasty-D-Lite (that craving remains unsatisfied).

A day in the life of Matt Rasmussen (not a typical day, just a kind of day) may include planning an informal ice cream social with friends, during which a miscommunication occurs, paid for ice cream never appears, yet toppings abound, even obscure ones like walnuts, and expensive ones like strawberries. Rasmussen takes these little pitfalls of life in stride. Vanilla is his favorite ice cream flavor.

When a guy walked by us in the hall wearing a Virginia Tech hockey t-shirt, I asked Rasmussen to tell me his immediate reaction. “Well, that guy, he probably knew someone. You can’t really just go online right now and order a shirt like that. But honestly, I’m borderline outraged by how everyone’s dealing with the situation. Like, writing letters to families of victims and students, that’s a really nice gesture. But some people are literally just like I’m going to change my buddy icon to a VT logo and that’s going to be a huge, meaningful thing.” The shallowness of the average college student’s response to this tragedy seemed very disturbing to him.

Rasmussen confessed cheerfully during a topic change that he has no hidden talents. “All my talents aren’t hidden,” he said. “If I have a talent, I immediately exploit it!” Whistling, singing, and snapping are no exceptions -- Rasmussen can’t successfully do any of the triumvirate of stupid human tricks. However, he can “sling drinks” as his face book profile says, and he does nightly, at his bar managing job at Studio 54.

After talking with Rasmussen, I came to two overwhelming conclusions. One, Rasmussen is funny. Seriously, you should go talk to him. You’ll laugh.
Two, I’m sincerely sorry I have to miss that party.

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