A group of 16-year-old boys stand in a circle in the driveway of a suburban house, holding hands. They shift uncomfortably from leg to leg. The silence is punctuated with plastic crunches because beneath their Dickies are adult diapers. One boy starts laughing and walks away with his head in his hands. Two others lock eyes as one says, “It’s so warm!” The fourth joins them in experiencing what it feels like to piss yourself, but Matt Kubiak simply can’t. He drank just as much water as anyone, but he’s too controlled, too polite, too aware of his surroundings to let go and let flow. He walks into his house and relieves himself in the toilet, laying down the lid, washing his hands, and going back out to hear what it felt like so he can remember it word for word.
Matt is the ultimate observer and an unwavering gentleman. These two qualities are equal in presence and importance. One feeds the other. In fact, I might as well take this time to apologize to Matt because talking about him this much will undoubtedly make him feel itchy and scratchy.
In the gaming world of Mario, there’s a character named Kirby who is cheerful and pink. While wielding no specific powers of his own, he holds what is possibly the ultimate skill: absorbing the power of others. Drawing a parallel to this character is how I’d start my Matt Kubiak 101 course.
At Paradowski, he’s our production artist. As Matt puts it, “I paint the outside of houses. I don’t paint paintings.” His work value lies in having no identifiable style, no trademark paths. He alone must work with every team and designer, learning how each of them works in order to chameleon himself to blow out a campaign. Don’t let him fool you. He will tell you he has no interests, but that’s because he’s interested in everything.
While Matt is most comfortable in his uniform of solid-colored t-shirts, jeans and Puma sneakers (I was told that he even lounges in jeans), he is the first person in the office to compliment earrings or a new haircut. And he’ll know the name of it with the correct pronunciation. Hell, he might even have to correct your pronunciation with competing emotions of satisfactorily making things right in the world, and the pain of having conflict with anything or anyone ever.
Matt has lived in St. Louis since the day he was born. He grew up in St. Peters with his older sister and an Alaskan-Spitz mix who bit people. He says he will probably never leave, but he knows more about the history of people around the world than those with full passports. As a kid, his interests took him outside of his world with Greek Mythology and, of course, Star Wars. He was about to major in history until his father asked him what he’d do with the degree. The last book he read was The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. He claims it was very digestible. Your moderator isn’t so sure.
Matt also considers himself an Anglophile and can’t say enough about his trip to Ireland for a friend’s wedding. It was a solid week of hanging around, staying in a chateau on a lake while exploring the lesser-known area of Ennis. And, he adds, thank Jebus it didn’t rain the whole time.
During our interview, Matt is talking about the house he owns and says no, he has no plants or animals. He “hates things like that” and mows the grass, even if it is an ethical life form, in the hopes it will deter anything else from growing. There are flowers in the back that grow despite him. He wishes they would die so he wouldn’t have to worry about weeding. He once watched a friend's cat for 2 years and was relieved when they actually came back for it.
And yet, he can’t stand up from a table without asking if anyone needs anything (I think he would vomit if he didn’t), he remembers your great aunt’s rat had a worrisome wart that even YOU forgot about and asks how it’s doing, and Gus once gave a speech about how Matt was the secret glue that holds Paradowski together. He can talk to anyone, and as one friend put it, he will even talk to the people you wish he wouldn’t.
As you can see, Matt telling me that he struggles with putting emphasis on anything is bullshit. Because it’s pretty hard to find a single passion when you’re open enough to let everything become a part of you. And this, dear Reader, is why Matt is our Trivia Champion.
He’s led his team to victory not just every night, but every season. At Paradowski, we’re always clamoring to join him but we can’t because it’s like… a real serious team? So we just make our own shitty team that’s so bad everyone hates us but we don’t care because we’re eating hot pizza (the food of kings) and watching him work his magic? And if it’s Simpson’s trivia night, you’re going to wonder how you didn’t notice you were working with a two-legged encyclopedia?
What was the name of Matt’s high school band?
a.) Fruit Wine
b.) Bing Bang Boom
c.) Poe’s Music
d.) Pose Music
C. Matt played drums in Poe’s Music, a rock band of self-taught teen boys. He said people often misspelled it Pose Music, which was fine because they were all a bunch of posers anyway. During our interview, he schools me on Poe’s short story The Cask of Amontillado, where a vengeful man kills and hides his friend’s body by bricking up an underground wine cellar.
When Matt’s parents were out of the house for the night, he and his friends
a.) Took their car for a joyride
b.) Drank his mother’s wine spritzers and broke a fish tank
c.) Gambled his sister’s violin away
d.) Climbed into a crawl space and broke a little dry wall
D. It sounds trite, but when Matt’s friends tell you he’s a stand-up guy, they mean it. So when Matt’s parents left him and his buddies alone, their shenanigans included crawling into the ceiling and scrambling to fix the little damage they caused.
For Christmas 2016, Matt’s parents gave him
a.) A toilet
b.) A chocolate fountain
c.) Four pairs of the same jeans
d.) A kitten, which he exchanged at Petco for cash
A. Matt is a practical king, and he needed a new throne.