Grasshopper Soup: Matty Daniels gets his birthday wish | SierraSun.com
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Grasshopper Soup: Matty Daniels gets his birthday wish

Bob Sweigert
Grasshopper Soup

I was three hours late for the surprise party celebrating the last day of being 49 for Matthew Carl Daniels, and he was still there, with a large crowd of family and friends. Much to their credit, and his, after all these years, Mattyand#8217;s friends still love him.

Sordid rumors about the party are spreading like wildfire, so I thought a few rare, but good words were in order to protect the innocent. But, when I asked him if I could use his name, Matty said, and#8220;Sure! Just donand#8217;t make me sound like too much of a good guy. Iand#8217;m a bad guy!and#8221; Now I have no choice but to grant him his wish.

Let me continue by saying that the crowd gathered in Mattyand#8217;s honor at the River Grill Sunday provided strong, but only circumstantial, evidence that the most important title he has earned over the years, Honorary Mayor of Tahoe City, was acquired honestly. and#8220;Mr. Whaleand#8221; and and#8220;Tahoeand#8217;s Deadliest Catchand#8221; were never in dispute.

Aside from his wit, legendary wise-cracking and fool-hearted ability to endure physical injury and incompetence (usually someone elseand#8217;s), and his good humor (a smile is never far from the stoic, granite-like seriousness usually carved on his face), what I admire most about Matty is his willingness to commit random acts of kindness.

After a storm last winter, and probably because Matty woke me up with his loader, I was the first one to move my car so he could plow me out. He cleared everybodyand#8217;s spot but mine. There was plenty of room, and the storm hadnand#8217;t left much snow anyway, so I didnand#8217;t care if Matty cleared my spot or not. But I still had to bug him about it, even if it meant risking a stern reminder from him that my bugging skills are no match for his.

I said, and#8220;Hey Matty, you missed a spot.and#8221; For a second there I thought he looked apologetic.

Later, I noticed he had returned to plow just for me. Or, he was bored and just wanted to look busy. Nonetheless, my suspicion about Mattyand#8217;s golden heart was confirmed.

When I finally arrived at the party, Matty was not to be found surrounded by admirers. He was on the back deck of the River Grill, doing what he does best, bugging a lovely lady, who was managing to maintain interest. I asked if he had been surprised by the party, and, as I expected, he said it was no surprise to him at all. He knows everything in Tahoe City. He said his only surprise was how many people actually showed up. Then he quickly ignored me and started in on the poor, unsuspecting woman again.

I wanted to go home anyway, because I hadnand#8217;t showered in two days and had been camping at Hawk Shadow Ranch, west of Jackson, but I couldnand#8217;t resist crashing Mattyand#8217;s party with my distinct, old sleeping bag and crusty pajama scent, which provided me with a perfectly convenient excuse to not talk to The Mayor, or anyone else, for very long.

Since I missed his and#8220;surprise,and#8221; Iand#8217;ll assume Mr. Whale was a splash and succeeded in acting surprised, maybe got a few goose bumps, fought off a tear or two and had a great time.

I had arrived in South Lake Tahoe with more than enough time to get to the party before Matty showed up, when I realized my prescription glasses were missing. Finding them crushed, or not finding them at all, back at Hawk Shadow Ranch, was likely, but, wearing functional prescription sunglasses, I drove the 120 miles back, via highway 88. I found my more valuable prescription glasses intact in the green grass as soon as I got out of the car, had a beer and lunch with some of the old hippies and cowboys still hanging out at the ranch and returned the way I came, back to Tahoe City, without blinking or nodding.

At Mattyand#8217;s party I told Tim Longo the story of my one day, triple trans-Sierra drive in search of my prescription glasses, and he thought I was saying I drove all that way blind!

No, I was just trying to miss the party.

and#8212; Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, former college instructor and ski instructor. He has a B.A. and an M.A.T. from Gonzaga University. He has lived at Lake Tahoe for 30 years.


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