victory screen

Further reading: Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24. Also check out the official Livin' Large FAQ, Cast List, Flow Chart 1.0, Flow Chart 2.0 and Parts 1 and 2 of the Livin' Large Epilogue.

Well, this is it: the final installment of Livin' Large. Many thanks to everybody who has been following and enjoying the series. You people drove this series. I guarantee this story would have been much shorter and much less interesting without all the encouragement. And for the people who have just wanted it to be over for one reason or another, consider your wish granted. Mat's tale is near the bottom, so if that's why you're here, scroll waaaaaaay down.

The Larry Bird shorts

Between my sophomore year in high school and my junior year in college, I probably wore my Larry Bird shorts more than 1,000 times. Easy. Maybe even close to 1,500. This is mostly because I wore them at night when I was chilling out or whatever.

Unfortunately, the graphics and lettering weren't stitched on. It was one of those iron-on numbers. Now, if I had washed them using a gentle cycle and maybe let their air dry, they might have lasted. But I was a teenage male. That meant my method of doing laundry consisted of jamming everything I wasn't currently wearing into the washing machine, choosing the maximum strength cycle, pouring in about half a bottle of detergent, pressing start, and praying that overloading the washing machine didn't cause it to break or explode.

So, naturally, after a great many washings -- but probably far fewer than they deserved -- the Larry Bird parts of the Larry Bird shorts peeled off completely. Once they had been reduced to nothing more than a pair of faded navy blue shorts, I tossed 'em.

The VHS basketball video collection

I still have it. Oh yes. In bags and boxes and stuffed into an entertainment center in my spare room. I need to convert those bad boys to DVD. I should probably do it soon before they're lost forever. It just takes so much damn time. Maybe next year. Of course, I seem to say that every year...

Bonus story: Evil Ted

By now, most of you know about Evil Ted, my pickup buddy and occasional contributor to Basketbawful. Even though he isn't part of this story, how we met is related to the end of my college career. Shortly before I finished my second degree, I started looking for jobs, mostly in Chicago. I had a couple jobs in the queue -- one a public relations position, the other an hourly technical writing job -- when I got a callback for an entry level tech writing gig in the Chicago loop. I drove into Chicago for the interview, which was conducted by the senior tech writer at that company...none other than Evil Ted.

I remember only two things from that initial interview. First, ET actually asked me, "If you were a tree, what tree would you be?" When I hesitated to answer, he said, "A horny maple, perhaps?" That was my introduction to ET's rather strange brand of humor. The second thing I remember is rocking the hell out of the interview. I drove back to school utterly convinced that I had that job in the bag. And because the opportunity with that particular company had impressed me so much, I immediately called the other two companies I had interviewed with and turned down their offers. That was on a Thursday.

On Friday morning, ET called me at precisely 8:13 a.m., waking me up in the process. "Hi, this is Ted," he began. "I wanted to thank you for coming in yesterday, but I'm afraid we won't be able to use you at this time. However, we will keep your resume on file in case there's another opening in the future."

Oh shit.

I wigged out. In less than a day, I had gone from what I had thought were three guaranteed jobs to none. There was only a month and a half until graduation. And I had recently become estranged from my mom, so I didn't have the option of moving back home and looking for a job when the school year ended. I either had to find a job or, well, that was the only option.

That same day, several friends got together to celebrate getting jobs. I felt like such a schmuck. I went home that night and spent the evening preparing 50 or so resumes and cover letters, which I dropped in the mail the next morning. That was on a Saturday.

On Sunday morning, I decided to write a thank you letter to Ted for the interview because, well, that's what I had been taught to do. As I was writing it, I suddenly came to a horrifying realization: I had used an old version of my resume and cover letter template the previous day. That meant the contact information -- home address, e-mail address, phone number -- were all wrong. Even if any of those 50-plus places wanted me to come in for an interview, they wouldn't be able to contact me.

Now I wigged out a second time. But even in that wigged out haze, I decided to go ahead and write that thank you letter. I pulled out my printer with shaking hands and immediately dropped it to the ground, where it broke into pieces that, like Humpty Dumpty, could not be put back together again. I stormed out of my room and stalked down to the dorm's computer lab. I cranked out the thank you letter, jammed it into an envelope, and stuffed it into the outgoing mail box at the dorm's post office. Then I set about looking for other job openings.

On Monday morning, my phone rang at about a quarter after 8 a.m., waking me up yet again. It was Ted. "Yeah, so things have changed, and I was wondering if you wanted to come in for a second interview."

Hardly believing my own luck, I said, "Yes, absolutely."

When I arrived on Wednesday morning, ET said, "You're going to talk to a couple of the managers, but first, we need to talk about something." ET pulled my thank you letter out of his pocket. Two things were circled with red magic marker. One was his name, which was misspelled. The other was the company name, which was also misspelled. Because I hadn't expected to ever hear from ET again, and because I had been so wigged out about the botched resumes and cover letters, I had written that thank you letter in haste without giving any though to actually proof reading it. Bad, bad, bad mistakes for a would-be technical writer.

"Should I be worried about this?" ET asked.

Head prickling with sweat, I replied, and this is an exact quote, "That is a terrible faux pas. It won't happen again."

"That's all I needed to hear," ET said.

I then interviewed with a lovely woman named Leanne (after which I was certain the job was mine) and a seemingly scary guy named John (after which I was sure the job was not mine). ET and I had a wrap-up chat, during which we uncovered our mutual love of Larry Bird. Then I made the long drive back to school.

The next morning, ET called and offered me the job. I accepted, and I've been with that company ever since.

As a postscript, ET later admitted that I had been his first choice based on qualifications but that he had extended an offer to a female applicant because he thought he would be more comfortable working with a woman (less intimidating). Only she turned down the offer shortly after ET had called to say the company didn't need me, which forced him to call me back the next day for the second interview.

"Thank God she turned me down," ET once said. "Hiring her would have been a big mistake."

I agree.

Aimee (and other random stories)

When Mat moved out a week into the second semester of my freshman year, I was thrilled for several reasons, not the least of which was that I suddenly had a single room. And that meant unlimited time alone with Aimee, if I could ever get her to visit me at school. That dream died a couple weeks later when Aimee broke up with me.

At the time, Aimee was pledging a sorority, and there was a dance. Apparently, it was important to attend the dance with a guy who was pledging a frat at the same school. So she planned to go with some guy that wasn't me. I found this out via her roommate, Latrisse, which led to some ugly words first to Latrisse and then to Aimee. One thing led to another, and suddenly I was single again.

But I wasn't buying it. After all, Aimee had said she loved me. I figured she was just confused and needed some time. Besides, we'd already made plans to attend the Residence Hall Formal at my school a couple weeks later. She agreed to keep up her end of that bargain, so Nathan and I drove down to Indy, picked her up, and brought her back to my school. As was customary, I presented her with a corsage. When I tried to get sentimental about it, she reminded me, "You do realize going to this dance doesn't mean we're back together?" Talk about a buzz kill.

We went out do dinner with my friend Joe, his girlfriend, Andrea, his girlfriend's sister, and the sister's date. We went to dinner at -- of all places -- Olive Garden. (Sorry, Nancy.) Then there was the dance. Let me just say it's really, really awkward to spend the night dancing with someone who recently broke up with you because she had been kinda-sorta cheating on you. But here's the funny part. At one point in the evening, we ran across Susan, who was newly single and there with her friend Josh (who was even more hopelessly infatuated with her than I was). Susan asked what was up with Aimee, and I said we were there as "just friends." So Susan asked for a dance with me, at which Aimee grabbed onto me like I was the last lifeboat of the Titanic. The girls stared at each other for a few seconds until Susan broke the tension by saying, "Maybe later, then." Aimee may not have wanted me...but she didn't want Susan to have me either. It was an all-around rotten time. And it was one of the last times I saw Aimee that semester.

So I was rid of Mat and had my own room, but I was much more miserable than I had been during the first semester. I moped through those months in a haze, particularly after Susan started dating Stu. I did end up going on one date. I had a study buddy named Jen, and in the process of calling her I'd gotten friendly with her roommate, Miranda. I asked her out for the Saturday night of a major party weekend at my school. (Hint: it revolves around a go-cart race.) She agreed, and we were having a pretty good time (even though I almost threw up after a ride on the Gravitron) until we stopped back at my dorm for a s'mores roast. Some lonely guy who lived at my dorm started whining to us (but mostly her) about not having anybody to hang out with. Feeling sorry for him, Miranda invited him to join us for the evening. He happily agreed and didn't leave our side for the rest of the night. I was pissed -- particularly in light of how Aimee had rejected me -- and we didn't go out again.

Summer came, and I went back home to a new step-father, a new house, and a new temp job with the Kokomo Parks and Recreation Department. It was a real joy, let me tell you. Four days a week, I had to use a push mower to trim sections of the many parks in Kokomo -- believe it or not, that little burg has 27 parks! -- and one day a week I had to help empty garbage drums at the parks. Trash duty. It was the worst. Basically, another guy and I had to life these 55 gallon cans over our head and shake the hell out of them over the edge of a garbage truck until all the trash fell out. Only the cans were rusty, full of holes (out of which leaked a horrifying substance we dubbed "trash juice"), and covered with giant, biting ants. Oh, and there were bees, too.

Another note about the trash runs. Two things you found lots of in park trash cans were dead pets and porn. Apparently, people who didn't want to bury their deceased pets or pay a vet to take care of the remains would simply drive by the park and dump them into a trash can. This happened all the time. Furthermore, in the pre-Internet porn era, guys who wanted a quick peek at tits would simply buy a dirty magazine, flip through it at the park, and then throw it away. I kid you not. These magazines always ended up in the back of the park trucks. There were hundreds of porn magazines stashed behind the seats of those trucks...which sure helped pass the time on breaks.

(Funny side note: One week, one of the KPRD guys and I were riding on the back of the trash truck when we saw this total hottie reading by herself under a tree. The guy, Jason, said, "Hey, maybe I should go ask her out." To which I replied, "What are you going to say?! Hey, baby, I don't pick up trash every day. Most of the time, I mow grass!" He cracked up...and didn't ask the girl out.)

Anyway, a week into the glorious summer break, Aimee called me up and asked me out. When we got together, she said she loved me, had made a mistake, and wanted to get back together. So back together we got. For a whole two weeks. That's when she (again) hit me right between the eyes. We were talking on the phone one night, and I suggested doing something or other the next night, to which she replied, "Oh, right. Uh, I'm going to be busy tomorrow night." When I suggested doing whatever it was the night after, she said, "Uhm, I'm actually going to be busy for about a week. And we probably won't get to talk much, maybe not at all."

For a week?! Whaaaaaaaa...?! Apparently, she had -- like her roommate Latrisse -- gotten addicted to online chatting during her second semester and met some dude who attended school at the Citadel. He had immediately made plans to visit her over the summer...plans she intended to let him keep. She explained that he maybe kinda-sorta thought the trip was romantic, and she wanted to spare his feelings by not revealing that we had gotten back together. As you can probably guess, that went over with me like a dead cat sandwich, so we broke up yet again.

I ended up spending the summer mostly just working and hanging out with friends, and semi-dating Cindy. Right before school started back up, Aimee and I got together, and she told me she intended to remain single during her sophomore year. I said fine, and that I would more than enjoy my freedom. Which I did, for about a week. But after a steamy game of Truth or Dare, a date with Cindy the Woman, and a made date with Susan, Aimee called. Or, as BadDave would put it, summoned me. And, sucker that I was, I went.

And we got back together.

I will say this. It wasn't the worst mistake of my life. In fact, that sophomore year ended up being the best and happiest year I spent dating Aimee. We never broke up. We had great times...times you get to share with another person only once in a lifetime. It wasn't all violins and roses, but it was close. To me, anyway. I'm sure BadDave remembers it differently. But I felt like the things we shared that year not only justified all the bad things that had happened before but also foreshadowed a long and happy life together.

Things started going bad the next summer. Originally, I was going to work at my college and live with BadDave over the break. But that failed for a couple reasons. First, BadDave got taken down by a stat curse. He had spent most of our sophomore year mocking me for spending so much time with Aimee, for letting her keep me "prisoner" on the weekends, while stating and restating emphatically that he would never let a woman control him that way. Well, guess who else was staying at school over the summer? BadDave's girlfriend. And guess who expected BadDave to spend every night with her? Yup. In the two weeks I stayed at school, BadDave and I hung out exactly zero times.

(Side story: Earlier that year, during a rare visit from Greg, I had -- at his urging -- invited over some girl we had met in a chat room. The beast, a girl named Annie, came over and threw herself at me, basically offering to be my NSA sex slave. I turned that offer down, and if you'd seen that monster, you'd know why. Anyway, the first night of living-with-BadDave-but-not-really-living-with-him, I was skulking around the apartment by myself feeling annoyed. I opened the front door just as someone else was opening the door of the apartment across the hall. It was Annie. "Matt!" she squealed. "I can't believe it! What luck! Now I have somebody to hang out with!" I said, "Uh, yeah, I'm busy." She said, "How about I make you dinner sometime?" I said, "Uh, sure, just knock." And I never answered that door again. Fortunately I moved in a couple weeks. The funny thing is, years later, when visiting BadDave at the dorm he was an R.A. at, I ran into Annie again. She was now a senior dating a freshman at BadDave's dorm. Not all that surprising. Freshman guys will have sex with almost anything that isn't tied down or on fire. And if it's on fire, they'll probably put it out and have sex with it. Anyway, I digress.)

Then, out of the blue, my grandma got sick and was diagnosed with cancer. It didn't look like she was going to make it, so I moved home to be there for her and the rest of my family. (Fortunately, Grandma 'Bawful pulled through and is still with us today.) But money was an issue, so I ended up getting two full-time jobs. By day, I moved furniture. By night, I stacked piles of newspapers onto wooden skids and then pulled those skids from one room into another. Basically, I was working from about 5 a.m. (or earlier) to midnight (or later) at two very physically demanding jobs. Aimee got off work around 1 a.m., so I met up with her for an hour or two, got an hour or two of sleep, and started over the next day. I did that for the rest of the summer. It nearly killed me.

I basically became a zombie. I shuffled from place to place doing what I had to do, but my brain was usually a blank slate. If I wasn't working or actively engaged in some kind of activity, I would fall asleep. My body got beaten up. I ended up with busted ribs, a torn shoulder muscle, countless ugly bumps and bruises, and aches and pains of every variety. But I was in a situation where I either earned money for school or I didn't go to school, so I endured that schedule...even as it wreaked havoc with my personal life.

Aimee and I barely got time to see each other as it was, and I was barely alive when we did see each other. Naturally, she began to feel neglected. One night, I even fell asleep while we were making out. "Okay, this is getting ridiculous," she said. She wasn't wrong.

I worked right up to the day I moved back to school. I literally got off work, loaded up my car, and drove to my dorm. BadDave had already moved all of our stuff back into the room from the on-campus apartment he had been staying in. But he wasn't there, having opted to spend the night at his girlfriend's place rather than try to arrange the mess that was our room. The place was a shambles. I spent maybe five minutes trying to move things around before I just broke down and started crying. Looking back, I think I was having a nervous breakdown. Three months of getting only a couple hours of sleep a night combined with working two physically grueling jobs had literally almost destroyed me, both mentally and physically. I was a mess. And I had let my relationship with Aimee fall into disrepair.

It didn't seem to matter at first. We were still together, and things seemed mostly normal. But the drifting apart process had already begun, and it continued over the course of the first semester and into the second. Sure enough, we broke up about midway through the second semester. I found out from her sweet mate, who had developed a crazy crush on me (that's a story in itself), that Aimee had started dating someone else before we had officially broken up. I never found out whether the "before we had broken up" part was true, but she was dating the guy. And she ended up going to Mexico to hang with him over the summer. Oh, and he was two years younger than I was, which really pissed me off for some reason.

I turned my attention to Susan, but as you know from the second part of this epilogue, that didn't work out. So by the time Aimee got back from Mexico at the end of the summer, I was open to pretty much whatever. We spent a weekend together at my school, taking advantage of the fact that I was now an R.A. and therefore had my own room. We even went out dancing with Susan and Brett, and Aimee made sure to impress upon Susan that we were an item in a way that only a girl dancing up on a guy in a crowded club can.

We might have officially become a couple again, but Aimee was spending the semester in Washington D.C. That was fine by me, because I was really into Susan. The only problem being, of course, that Susan was dating someone else and preparing to move to Seattle. When she made plans to see her boyfriend, Torrey, over our fall break, I made plans to visit Aimee in D.C. What a disaster that was.

So here's what happened. I made plans to leave on a Wednesday night after a major Statistics exam. That morning, I was driving to Kokomo to pick up some things Aimee wanted from her parents' house when my car broke down. I ended up walking five or six miles until some guy in an old pickup truck offered to drive me the rest of the way to Kokomo. I had the car towed to my mechanic, and he told me that some kind of air flow module was busted and that my car wouldn't be repaired until they could special-order the part. Suddenly I had no way to get to D.C. But I was determined.

My grandparents drove me back to school. The clock was ticking. I looked into airfare, but the cheapest ticket I could find was $700. I didn't have that kind of money, so I looked into Greyhound. There actually was a bus leaving my town for D.C. that night at 7:30 p.m. My exam began at 7:00 p.m. I figured that gave me 20 minutes to take the exam, after which my buddy Jeremy (who would be waiting outside) would drive me to the bus depot. Nooooo problem.

Problem. The T.A.'s giving the exam didn't hand out the test form until almost 7:20. I now had five minutes to take the exam. I did the only thing I could think of: I checked every C on the Scantron form, handed it in, and left. I thereby disproved that particular Urban Legend by failing the exam. Yay me.

The Greyhound trip lasted 24 hours, during which time I had to transfer buses seven or eight times. I sat next to every freak you could imagine and some you couldn't. One woman had bloody bandages on her feet and started to punch me when I tried to sit down (it was the last seat left on the bus). There was one guy who told me his best friend had recently been eaten by a bear while he was forced to watch. Another dude said he was a construction worker and claimed that he had just seen a man get disintegrated by touching a damaged electrical box. "All that was left," he said, "was boots and dust.” At one stop, this hillbilly family came in with eight or 10 garbage bags that were acting as their luggage. They stowed them in some seats and then walked off the bus. While they were gone, some people kicked their bags into the aisle and took over the seats. When the hillbillies returned, a brawl broke out and the bus had to be evacuated. It rained the entire trip.

By the time I reached D.C., I was exhausted. Aimee had convinced me to rent a room so we could have privacy. Only she ended up not staying with me. And she was so busy with school that we barely hung out at all. Except for one day of sight-seeing and one night of pub crawling, I felt like I was more or less on my own. And then I had to take the Greyhound back to Indiana. By the time I returned, I was ready to shoot myself in the head.

The semester ended and Susan moved away. Shortly after that, Aimee came calling. She told me she had made mistakes, that she hadn't treated me the way I deserved. I told her hell no she hadn't, and that I was done being her whipping boy. She said it wasn't going to be like that anymore, that she was going to show me what love was. It was pretty dramatic. And I believed her, so we got back together once again. For most of the rest of that semester, things were great. In some ways, they were even better than that fabled sophomore year. Aimee was putting her all into our relationship. She wrote me letters. She made a huge deal out of my birthday. She made a couple surprise trips to see me. When I got stuck doing R.A. duty over Spring Break, she came and stayed with me, even jumping in to help clean up a hallway that got flooded when a pipe broke.

I really thought we had finally become the couple I had always wanted us to be. Aimee had never been so sensitive, so loving. We started to talk openly about life after college. Marriage came up. There was one little snag. We were both about to graduate. Because my R.A. job was earning me a full ride, I had decided to attend grad school. But there was more to it than that. During the first semester, BadDave -- who was an R.A. at another dorm -- told me that he was going for a Staff Resident position. Staff Residents were basically the bosses of the R.A.'s. I had no interest in doing that at my dorm. Why take on the extra responsibility? I had enough on my plate. But then -- and this shocked the hell out of me -- BadDave laid down some trash talk. The implication seemed to be that maybe I wasn't up to the task...that maybe I wouldn't even be able to become a Staff Resident if I wanted to be. He further suggested that I hadn't put in the same amount of work at being an R.A. as he had.

To be fair, he was probably right about that last part. I was a good R.A., but BadDave took it all much more seriously than I did. Which makes sense, since he's now in Residence Life. But even though I didn't care, I couldn't stand by and let a challenge go unanswered, even if it was a gentle challenge from my best friend. I went for the Staff Resident position at my dorm and I got it. But, when the position was offered, my dorm's assistant manager asked me as a personal favor to only accept if I honestly planned to stay at least one more year. In other words: don't back out.

I agreed. But Aimee didn't like that. She wanted to go straight from undergrad to law school, and she wasn't planning to stay in Indiana to do it. But I was bound by my word...plus I had been accepted into a graduate program. We came up with a compromise. I was holding off on going to grad school and instead use my fifth year to complete a second undergrad degree. She would live in town and work that year, after which I would get a job wherever she was going to law school. I'd support her through law school, and then she'd support me through grad school. It was a good plan. And, like many good plans, it was destined to fail.

A few weeks before the end of the school year, Aimee dropped a bomb on me. She rather casually mentioned that she'd be living in Texas soon.

Once I'd picked my chin up off the floor, I said, "Wh...what? Texas?! What are you talking about?!"

"Oh, you know," she said, "I got that law internship in Texas. I told you that."

"Uh, no you didn't. I'm pretty sure I'd remember something like that."

"No, I know I told you," she said. "You must have forgotten."

Not friggin' likely. But that was that. She moved to Texas. We kept in touch. She told me about some guy she was dating, and how he broke her heart, and how the situation reminded her of that Jewel song Foolish Games. This made me want to throw up. In fact, it still does a little bit.

During my fifth year, out of bitterness, I started dating like crazy. Friends said I should install a revolving door in my room. I wish I could say that being off the leash was rewarding, but it wasn't. I was pulling out of the funk around Christmas time Aimee returned to Indiana to visit family. We spent a week or so together, capped off by a weekend in my staff resident apartment. She professed her love to me and vowed to finish her next assignment (she was at that time doing travelling consulting) and then move to my town until I graduated, after which we would start a life together. She seemed so earnest that I bit, hook, line and sinker. I remember watching her drive off and thinking, "It's finally going to happen."

Can you believe I fell for it again?

Aimee had promised to call me when she got to where she was going, but she never did. I knew she hadn't died, because her parents would have contacted me. I had to conclude she had chosen not to call. So I tracked her down. This was before you could Google people and places of employment, so it took me two weeks to find her through the company she was working for. She was staying in a hotel in Minnesota. I called her room dozens of times, but no one ever answered and she never responded to my messages. I just kept calling, more out of anger than anything else. I wanted answers.

After a couple of hundred calls, the woman at the front desk said she felt bad for me. "Are you...with...this woman?"

"Supposedly," I said.

"Well," she began, "then you should probably know, she's staying with a man. And I'm pretty sure they're together. Like, you know..."

"I get it," I said.

"I'll tell you what," she said. "I'm going to tell her it's an emergency and she has to take the call. Hold on."

I held on.

"Hello?" It was Aimee. She sounded suspicious.

"Hey babe," I said, and it took every ounce of free will not to scream or sound angry. "Man, I was starting to think something bad had happened to you."

"Oh, well, I'm fine," she said.

"I love you," I said.

"Thanks," she replied.

"Thanks? Don't you mean 'I love you too'?"

"Sure," she said.

"Say it," I demanded.

"No. Why are you trying to force me to say it? It should come naturally."

"Because I know you're there with some guy, and that's why you won't say it, why I haven't heard from you in weeks. Right?"

She didn't reply. I unloaded holy hell on her and hung up. Then I ransacked my room. Chairs, couches, tables, trash cans...everything went flying. And once I calmed down, I was fine. Like, I felt better than I had felt in years. That's one of the funny things about relationships. You never know the last straw is going to be until it gets dropped on your back. But when it happens, you know. You just know.

However, the story wasn't quite over. A few months after I moved to Chicago, I got a phone call from Aimee. "Guess what?" she said. "I just moved to Chicago!"

She came over to my apartment and made her pitch. "I moved her to be with you," she said. "Please take me back."

I didn't take her back. I had moved on. It was over. I think Aimee had difficulty believing that, and even more difficulty accepting it. Which isn't surprising. She probably thought I'd keep taking her back forever and ever. I had told her that before with words, and I had taught her that with my actions. But our relationship was finally and irrevocably over. A couple months later, she moved back to Texas.

Over the course of Livin' Large, there have been two schools of thought: that Aimee was a bitch and that I was an idiot to keep getting back together with her.

Regarding that first school of thought: yes, Aimee did a lot of stupid and even cruel things. However, I don't think that made her a bad person. In fact, the situation reminds me of the fable of the scorpion and the frog. In case you don't know it, here it is: a scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks, "How do I know you won't sting me?" The scorpion says, "Because if I do, I will die too." The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown, but has just enough time to gasp "Why?" The scorpion shrugs and says, "It’s my nature."

The point isn't that Aimee was a scorpion, simply that it was not in her nature (at that time) to commit to things. She constantly wanted new experiences, to meet new people and do new things. When she had an impulse, she followed it. When she tried to live a more conventional lifestyle, things didn't work out. Because she loved me and saw me as someone worthy of spending her life with, she tried to fight her nature. I also tried to make her change her nature through persuasion, manipulation, etc. See, my nature was to seek stability, which ran counter to her desire for freedom from commitment.

Any relationship predicated on the need for one or both people to change on a fundamental level is doomed to failure.

As for why I was "stupid" enough to keep taking her back, well, I was brought up to believe that if you loved somebody, you had to be willing to sacrifice anything to be with them. I hadn't yet learned that love alone can't sustain a relationship, and that sometimes loving someone means letting them go for the good of everybody involved.

Aimee and I kept in touch for a few years, but eventually it all just faded away. I still keep in semi-regular contact with her parents, whom I have always thought the world of. Particularly her father, George, whom I've written about on this site and consider one of the top three men I've ever known. But I never ask them about Aimee, and they never tell me anything about her. It's like an unspoken agreement or something. A high school friend recently told me she's currently working as a viticulturist in California.

Believe it or not, I did have a brief e-mail exchange with Aimee a year ago. I received an auto-generated e-mail from a high school reunion Web site that somebody had just searched for my name, and that person lived in the last place I remembered Aimee living in. A few days later, after her birthday, I received another auto-generated e-mail that the person who had searched for my name just had a birthday. So I figured what the heck, and I sent a short happy belated birthday e-mail to her last known (to me) e-mail address. A few days later, I received a brief response, basically saying hello and asking what was new with me. I sent a long reply...and never heard back.

Maybe it's better that way.

Mat

After dropping the Shelly bomb on him, Mat and I never spoke face-to-face again. I saw him at various times, like when he was riding his bike around campus or hanging out at the local bars (always with an unreasonably hot girl in tow).

Susan spoke to him once. She and her roommate Jen (who was mildly obsessed with Mat) ran into him at a party. Jen asked if he remembered me (this was during my sophomore year). Mat said, "Yeah, that guy's a loser." Then Susan (according to Jen) went off on him. I always appreciated that.

Mat spent his freshman season as a redshirt. In the ensuing three years, he went on to become one of the school's greatest basketball busts. Here was a seven-footer with Shaq size who simply could not play. Watching him try was like watching an elephant attempt to ice skate up hill. Mat had no feel for the game, no sense of how to play it. The physical skills were there. He just didn't get basketball.

During his senior season -- by which time he was playing alongside another future NBA All-Star -- Mat made token appearances in 13 games, averaging 0.5 PPG (on 33 percent shooting), 0.5 RPG, 0.1 APG and 0.0 BPG in 2.5 MPG. And that was his best statistical season.

When I finished my first degree after my fourth year, I went ahead and walked through the graduation ceremony (mostly because my mom insisted on it). There were two lines of graduates going into the building. By some strange twist of fate, Mat was standing almost directly across from me in the other line. Some guy behind me remarked to his buddy, "Hey, look, it's Mat [Last Name]. They dude actually graduated?" The buddy replied, "Apparently. But I don't see any honor cords on his gown." Then they both burst out laughing. That was just one of the many jokes Mat was the butt of during his college career.

I lost track of Mat after he graduated. However, I was back on campus a year or so after I graduated and happened to be in a bar where the men's basketball coach was doing a radio show. He mentioned that Mat was playing pro basketball in Africa. "He told me he scored 25 points last night," the coach said. "I was shocked. I don't think that kid scored 25 points while he was here. And that includes practices!" And the running joke continued.

In 2003, Mat showed up to the annual midnight magic event for a men's basketball alumni game. And here's the shocker: Mat played 20 minutes and finished with eight points, 2 boards, an assist and a steal for the white squad. Despite his best-ever performance in the name of his former school, the black squad won 47-44.

A few years ago, when Basketbawful was still very new, I decided I wanted to do a post about Mat. Yep. Just one post. I still have the draft in an old Microsoft Word file titled "The Worst Basketball Player I Ever Lived With." It's awful. I basically tried to cram the entire Livin' Large series into about 1,500 words. It lost a lot of its charm, mostly because it was hard to provide perspective and context to a lot of the situations. But that isn't why I failed to complete it. Originally, I wanted input from Mat himself. So, to that end, I spent a few weeks trying to track him down on the Internet.

After quite a bit of effort, I finally found an e-mail address. In my initial e-mail, I didn't explicitly state that I was his former roomie, but I used an address that was basically my first and last name followed by a number. I figured either he'd put two and two together -- although, admittedly, math wasn't among his strengths -- or he wouldn't. I basically said I was interested in knowing more about his college experience and asked whether he could share stories, stats and maybe some pictures with. To my great surprise, Mat replied two days later. He said he'd be happy to share the information with me, but that he was busy coaching a girl's basketball team in Europe. He promised to send me a lengthy reply the first chance he got. A week or so went by and I didn't get any e-mails, so I sent a short message asking if he still intended to write back. He replied the next day that he would as soon as he got a chance. This went on for a month or so until he simply stopped replying.

I was bummed. I had been this close to getting inside information from the protagonist of my story...and it fell through. I kept searching for information about him on the 'Net, but I never came up with anything substantial about his college career or his life after.

So I sat on the story. I would go back to it every so often and give it another try. But it quickly became apparent that I could never squeeze the entire saga into one post. That's when I got the idea of doing a series. By that time I was working for Deadspin. I pitched the story, it got rejected, and so I sat on it yet again. Then, this summer, I sat down at my computer and started fresh.

Oddly enough, writing the Livin' Large story helped me find out that Mat is currently (it appears) an MMA fighter. It seems fitting. Although the one fight I saw was rather sad, I can only presume that someone with his size and strength can probably kick some major ass. Then again, it sure seemed like someone with his size should be able to grab a rebound, so who knows.

I also came by what appeared to be Mat's current e-mail address. Yes, I sent an e-mail. Yes, I explained who I was and why I was writing. No, I never heard back. I figure that either he never received the e-mail (bogus address?) or he actually heard about or read some of the Livin' Large series and wanted nothing to do with it. It's too bad. I would have dearly loved to get his feedback, even if it was negative. In fact, especially if it was negative. I think Mat deserves his chance at a retort. And if I ever hear back from him, he can have it. I will post whatever he has to say, completely unedited, on this site.

Just don't hold your breath.

In the final analysis, Mat and I were, simply put, a bad match. I suppose that, had I been less into studying and more into partying, I would have loved living with him. Plenty of freshman men in our dorm thought I had the best possible situation. I'm sure Mat was just as unhappy with me as I was with him. He was the villain in my story, and I was the villain in his.

The school

I love my school. To this day, I still bleed school colors. So many memories...fountain runs, studying in the engineering mall, saying "hello" to people on the Hello Walk, sand volleyball outside my first dorm, the giant map in the memorial union, the late and lamented Stripe Shop, the brick buildings, the way the campus came alive on football weekends, Breakfast Club, the bars that are gone (like Kazoos and T.A. Toms), sitting in Harry's with BadDave from noon until close munching the free popcorn and drinking toxic amounts of beer, working out and balling at the Co-Rec, working for the school paper, climbing the clock tower, intramural sports, the residence hall formals, on and on and on again.

Those were and always will be some of the best years of my life. I will always feel like my life, my real life, began in college. I can't imagine having gone anywhere else. I imagine most people feel the same way.

And yet...sometimes I think about what-ifs. I actually received a full ride from Indiana State University in my original chosen major of journalism. Obviously, I chose to go elsewhere. Now most people, when they imagine having chosen another path for themselves, they tend to think, "Wow, I wouldn't have done this thing, or I wouldn't have met that person." What I usually think is this: had I gone to ISU instead, I likely would have met people who would have become my friends for life, made a different best friend, and fallen in love with other women. Those people are out there right now...people I would have shared the best times of my life with. But I'll never meet them. We'll live and die never knowing the other person's name, or if they even existed at all. That always gets me for some reason.

Of course, if I'd gone to ISU, I never would have lived with Mat, and there would have been no Livin' Large, maybe even no Basketbawful. So even though rooming with Mat was the worst five-month living experience I ever had, I'd say things worked out for the best in the end.

Labels: , ,

138 Comments:
Anonymous Sun Devil said...
Wow

Thank you.

Blogger Victor said...
"ET later admitted that I had been his first choice based on qualifications but that he had extended an offer to a female applicant because he thought he would be more comfortable working with a woman (less intimidating)."

Is that code word for "She was hot?"

"When she had an impulse, she followed it."

I think you just described 90% of women.

Blogger Dooj said...
The story was awesome Bawful. I'm glad you chose to share it. It provided a welcome respite between basketball seasons. Thanks.

I would have to say that you were stupid with Aimee though. I know the feeling, I've done the same thing with this one girl, but I still consider it to be the stupidest thing I've ever done. Glad you got out of it.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I can't believe how down I feel about this series being over. As a fellow Purdue grad, it's been a great walk down memory lane. I can say that right? It's not like you didn't totally give it away with Sweet Shop, Harry's TA Tom's etc. Of course, it's not like 99% of your readers hadn't already figured it out a long time ago.

Blogger Dan B. said...
What a fantastic read. Thanks for putting so much effort into this. Very bittersweet though -- I'm sad that I won't have any future Livin' Large installments, but I enjoyed the series and now get to look forward to a whole new season of bawful NBA lacktion. (The Grizzlies will keep us very well entertained, no doubt)

"Those were and always will be some of the best years of my life. I will always feel like my life, my real life, began in college. I can't imagine having gone anywhere else. I imagine most people feel the same way." -- I'm with you on that sentiment. I didn't really get to experience life until I went to college and spent four years living in the dorms with people my own age. I had opportunities to go to several other schools, and often wonder what would have happened if I had gone somewhere else instead of the University of Louisville. For the most part I don't see anybody I went to college with these days, but they still had such a significant impact on my life and how I grew into the person I am today. How would my life be different if I had gone to another college, but more importantly, how would I be different?

Anonymous pewing33ny said...
thanks for publishing all of this. i work at a call center and have nothing to do for hours at a time and every living large installment helped me get through the day.

Anonymous cumba said...
absolutely love the LL stories.. two questions

1) from what you've stated, none of these ladies are currently a part of your life... are you going to go into an update of yourself (are you dating/married now?) if so, what does she think of these stories?

2) at 28, i'm by no means too old for basketball, but athletically i'm definitely a shell of my 20 year old self. esp since at 5'10" a lot of my game was predicated on quickness. as i've gotten older, my shot has improved significantly to balance out my athletic decline (i always wonder at how good i could have been if i had the shot i had now back at age 20). from what i've read, you're a decent baller, but from your stories, i put you at at least 33. has your game changed drastically between now and college? it must have right? nobody can do the things at 33 that they used to do at 20...

Anonymous Boudicca's daughter said...
All Hail, Matt McHale!!!

Wow! Wot a topp final installment! This has been an epic, rollercoaster ride of a tale, worthy of the Bardic tradition.I'm gutted it's over. Please, please can we "have some more, sir?"

I will be following your basketbawful stuff but occasionl if only brief refs to the saga would be so gratefully received.

Have you hooked up with that bloke who offered to help you get an agent, etc. yet? I reaally hope so. This is too good not to make it into book form.

This has been one of the highlights of my summer and it's no exaggeration to say has helped with some sticky moments during my cancer treatments. I was so touched to read how you went home and looked after your Gran with her cancer; as well as slogging your guts out that summer. You deserve every success in all parts of your life, Bawful.

Thanks for all the courage, hard work and honesty, it's been a privilege.Definitely "with your shield" and long may it always be so.

Good luck and very Best Wishes.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Great ending Bawful. I don't post often, but I really enjoyed this series.

I still cannot figure out how, even with a journal, you could remember so many tiny details from a decade ago. I can scarcely remember what I did last week.

Don't feel bad about Aimee. I was infatuated with a girl in college for years, and she used that to her advantage in terms of some free tutoring. When you think there is a chance...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Thoroughly enjoyed this series! Good work, sir!

Anonymous Funkmode said...
Thanks Matt, for a brilliant read. So much I can relate to from my college years - even in different countries (Canada), people are people. And you've now connected with a great many of them that you never knew "even existed at all."

All the best and looking forward to another year of 'bawful.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
www.InternetStandingOvation.com

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
www.InternetStandingOvation.com

Blogger Michael said...
Thanks for a great series, a perfect way to pass the off-season. That was an epic feat of memory, well-written. I applaud you.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Excellent ending to an excellent series.

In a 2 v 2 matchup, who would win: College Bawful and College BadDave or College Sportsguy and College Jacko?

Blogger Dan said...
Amazing memoir. I came across this via a link on TrueHoop,and have been reading avidly for the last month. This was oddly powerful, and thanks for writing it.

Blogger Sahra said...
I thought you said you married Aimee? Were you just teasing us?

Blogger Marc said...
Thank you Matt. I enjoyed every segment. Good work.

Blogger 49er16 said...
Thank you, Sir Basketbawful.

Blogger John said...
Hey Matt,
This was a really really great series. Seriously. Please tell me you've got further plans to turn it into something. I'm with cumba, though, you need to include an update on yourself. Not sure what you do for a day job, but I hope it involves writing. Nothing beats a great story ...
John

Anonymous Anonymous said...
While I am not a big NBA fan I was given the link to this site because I am a huge fan of the school this is about. I am also a current grad student and remember watching Mat play and how horrible he was.

Also I actually have a connection to Mat. My brother's girlfriend's Aunt and Uncle were actually his host parents for a little while. She says he was very nice and very quiet. My brother even has an autographed team hat from Mat. Just thought it was wild. All of these people who knew Mat read the story and thought it was great. Good job!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
"Aimee did a lot of stupid and even cruel things. However, I don't think that made her a bad person."
And there, Bawful, lies your problem.

(My word verification is 'coned'. Yes, you were.)

Blogger DL - ACS said...
Bawful, this was nothing short of an amazing series. Thank you for getting us all through the offseason with the Livin Large Series.

I think of the time and effort it must have taken to write something so epic and I commend you.

Thanks

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Great series Bawful. People who say the best times of their lives were in high school never went to a university. The two do not even remotely compare to each other. I have only been out of college for two years but this story brought back some funny memories I had already forgotten about. Great work and I look forward to reading during the NBA season.

Blogger Micah said...
Absolutely fantastic work, Bawful. I was always a casual reader of the site, but it'll be daily during the upcoming year because of this.

And I know what you mean about college. I can't even fathom how different my life would be if I'd ended up somewhere else.

Anonymous NilsZero said...
Thanks, Bawful.The last installment is beautifully polished (worth the wait). I hope you get to publish this to print someday, as the series was excellent and coulfd only be improved by longer form.

Also, I too, had a girlfriend like Aimee, except after the first major breakup freshman year I went the opposite route you did. I escaped several attempts to reunite over the years, and while it may have been the smart option, it was probably the less fun one.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Aw f*&k me, now whut am I gonna do without getting to read all of dis compelling sh*t.

Many thanks Bawful. I always knew there was something I didn't like about that stiff taking up space on the bench for my alma mater. What a despicable human being.

I enjoyed the tales from your past, all of it!

Blogger Trev said...
What will you do to top this next offseason? I vote for "Livin Large: Year 5 Edition".

Anonymous michelle hillison said...
Thank you, I loved this series and found it hysterical. I've been a college basketball fan since I was small growing up in a college hoops town (Chapel Hill). I graduated college about 17 years ago and this made me remember some funny things.

Your analogy about Aimee is well done. I don't think she was horrible, she did some horrible things but doesn't everyone in college do things that are mean, horrible, stupid or vain? It's how you figure out who you are - whether you can stomach being an asshat and what consequences really are about.

I hope you write a book, I'd buy it - I think Mat might try to kill you MMA-style if he sees all of this and a book too.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
enjoyed every bit of it, similarly a large college, mine happens to be in SW Virginia, football definetly dominates our athletic scene here. I related very well, lived with twins that started for our mid 90's basketball team that won the NIT and made NCAA appearances. Women and recongnizable athletes always made things interesting. I was phone screener and door answerer because who knew what was on the other end of that situation.

Thanks again. Great times.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Thank you for all your hard work sharing this awesome story, it is appreciated.

Blogger chris said...
Hey: Imagine if non-committal Aimee and non-committal Mat had gotten together! That would make a great Saturday morning cartoon.

Blogger chris said...
Trev: Another vote for Fifth Year! Sweet.

Blogger Eric said...
I haven't commented before, but I've been reading every word of this series. Like so many other commenters, this reminds me a lot of my own experiences (my freshman roommate was a 5'1, 350 pound nose tackle on the football team, who DID NOT have women in the room all the time, hot or not hot) and stupidity (I had a girlfriend who was a lot like Aimee my sophomore year...it did not end well).

Well done, sir. I'm looking forward to Mat's retort, should he ever send it in.

Blogger TheOdenator said...
Great job Bawful, loved the series.

Anonymous Less Inflammatory Name said...
Bravo good sir....hope your eye is doing well...

I would type more, but their seems to be some obstruction in my eye I can't account for hahaha...

Blogger Will said...
Eric- 5'1" and 350 lbs.? I hope that's a typo and you meant 6'1", or else that is an oddly shaped human.

Blogger Travis Milne said...
"Aimee had promised to call me when she got to where she was going, but she never did. I knew she hadn't died, because her parents would have contacted me. I had to conclude she had chosen not to call."

I can't even begin to describe how awesome this part is.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Great story Matt!

I've looked forward to the next installment all summer long.

It reminds me so much of my college experience. My roommate was the Matt McHale character, and Maria was the hometown honey at a college an hour away.

My roommate was so bummed out one time that she broke up with him, and I regret to this day that my reaction was, "That's great! Now you can spend more time with the guys."

I imagine that one thing you liked about Aimee was her adventurous spirit. Only you imagined that she would be adventurous WITH YOU, while she saw you as the safe base that she could venture away from and return to if the latest adventure didn't work out. You wanted to change yourself as much as you wanted her to change. You wanted to be adventurous, but you needed a partner (Aimee) to take some of the risk with you.

Mike S

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Bawful-
Great series, but c'mon.... No update on you? Obviously, you're entitled to your privacy and don't have to reveal anything you don't want to, but in a series that turned out to be more about your love life than living with a college athlete (not complaining-- it was more interesting that way), it's hard not to feel cheated if you don't at least tell us if you're single, in a serious relationship, married, divorced, other. Just sayin'...
Otherwise I'd give the series a ten (damn!).

Thanks for a great story. As a fellow alumn of that university, it was great to read this story. I feel the same way about the school that you do. My years there were some of the best of my life.

The pick up games at the co-rec were some of the best pick up games I've ever played. Oh, and since our years at that school overlapped (the year of the tragedy in your dorm that you mentioned in the story was my freshman year), there's probably a reasonable chance that you and I played each other in at least one of those pick up games.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Really enjoyed the series and think it could be a great book. Took me down memory lane as I was there at the same school at the same time. Supprised you never said anything about Mat's teeth! What at sight! Was Joe a tall skinny red head? I played ball at the co-rec all the time and that guy was always there.

Blogger Eric said...
Yep, 5'1. Very oddly shaped. Hence the lack of girls.

Blogger Dan B. said...
I completely forgot to mention earlier: nice job with using the legendary "Conglaturation" screen from the Ghostbusters NES game. Good God, that was one horrific, torturous game. I actually laughed out loud at work when I saw that graphic this morning.

Blogger David said...
I don't want it to be over. :(

Was hoping it wouldn't end.

Blogger Will said...
Bawful- I know you've used that "guys will have sex with almost anything that isn't tied down or on fire" line before, but you more than made up for it with the "most of the time I mow the grass" line.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Never commented, but I've read all of the installments. You are an amazing writer!!

Anonymous marty said...
thank you for the stories and all the thought and energy that went into it. very entertaining and made for something to look forward to for the last 3 months or so.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Simply an awesome story. Your ability to share your college experience is second to none. Clearly this is evident with the numerous reader comments about how they could relate to certain experiences and characters throughout your story.

I for one completely relate to your relationship with Aimee. Although in my experience the roles were reversed. Needless to say, I was hurt and angry after my girl refused to take me back. I had finally wanted something stable, and she wanted space to experience and do new things. Woe was me. It’s funny to me that just when you think you finally figured out what you want and what you think you need, fate comes along and completely flips your world.

Reading this helped me realize that first; I was a real asshole, and second, love can't sustain a relationship when two people are at two different periods in their lives (their natures are as you say different). Love means doing what is best for you and the other person, and sometimes that means letting go. As hard as it seems it makes you better as a person. After all, most first loves never end up happing together forever. I’ve read, “First loves aren’t meant to last, they are meant to teach”

Finally, I also wonder how my life would have been different if I would have attended my other university option: who would I have met? Best friends? Love? Clearly, you never know. The college atmosphere and lifestyle for most of us is but a thing of the past. So many times I tell my friends, “Man, if I knew then what I know now…college would have been so much better (etc)” It’s so easy to look back and feel as if you could have just owned the moment(s). but what is stopping us from owning the moment today, tomorrow, and the next day? Nothing!

I am truly grateful for and I thoroughly enjoyed your sharing of Living Large because of the insight and lessons that you shared with us that you had to learn the hard way. You went through a lot and you shared your finest and worst moments.

Helluva story, and a helluva writer.

Bawful is off tha heezy!!!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Never commented either but I've been following this from the beginning. I really admire your work ethic in sticking with school. I came up without a whole lot either and I can tell you scrapped a lot to make it through. I'm probably 15 years ahead of you in school - I went to Ilinois - but lived in an athlete's dorm and can really relate to your stories. Eddie Johnson and Mark Smith lived in my dorm - similar talent, but Eddie worked hard and Mark partied hard, so Eddie ended up in the NBA for 20 years and Mark died at 41. So it goes. Anyway, great stories, brough back a lot of Big 10 memories for me, Indiana ones too! (I have family in Indy and Summitville), and great writing. Thanks man!

Blogger Steve Lee said...
Fitting end to one of the greatest internet series ever

Blogger A$B said...
Great job sir! Looking forward to your season updates now.

Blogger Fundefined said...
Thanks for putting on the pressure to make my college experience better. Still a freshman but I already feel like I've missed out a bit. But still, a great series and a great way to fill the summer gap. Thank you for sharing your life experience with a bunch of strangers

Blogger Evil Ted said...
Great job, Matthew. I laughed out loud at the job segment. I have two corrections, however:

1.) When I showed you the screwed up thank you note, you said it was a "horrible gaffe" and that it would never happen again. I specifically remember the word gaffe, and specifically remember thinking anyone just out of school who knew how to use the word "gaffe" couldn't be all that dumb.

2.) I offered the job to the woman solely because she could start immediately. I despised the mind-numbing nature of the tech writing work and wanted to pawn it off on an unfortunate underling ASAP. Thanks to her rejection, you became that unfortunate underling. Conglaturation !!!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I'm kinda sad it's all over. And what someone else said earlier--are you gonna tell us what you're doing now? are you going to continue in some way with similar posts? eg., the adventures of bawful and evil ted/badDave etc?

Anonymous Hilary said...
Great ending to a great tale, and thank you for sharing.

I'm glad that you tried to get in contact with Mat... Too bad he didn't want to play.

Also, I never thought that Aimee was a bitch or that you were an idiot. Sometimes she did bitchy things and sometimes you did idiotic things, but you were both very young, so you get passes. I winced at the end of both the Aimee part and the Susan part. I love that you seem to look back on them (and Cindy, too) affectionately even though you've all moved on.

I've enjoyed every bit of this story, but I'm also looking forward to normal worst of the night posts, which are why I started reading Basketbawful in the first place. Unless of course the Celtics beating your baby Bulls in the playoffs last year made you rethink your preferences and become a Lakers fan who worships Kobe as a god. If that's the case, you can stick with the autobiographical stuff-- it's fun, too!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Thanks Bawful. I've really enjoyed this series. I live in New Zealand and although basketball is not a major sporting event in this country I'll be reading more of your other posts now as well.

Blogger mrm3x1can said...
Tipping my hat to you MR.Bawful

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Wow...what a great series Bawful. I'm also a "long time reader, first time commentor," and wanted to thank you for wearing your heart on your sleeve for our entertainment. I'm suprised at how sucked in to your story I got, and how bummed I would get if an installment was delayed (please take that as a compliment....that's how good they are. Plus, it helped build the suspense and made it that much better).

Blogger Silly Bitch said...
thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for the summer distraction!

Anonymous AlabamaMike said...
Great series! Sad to see it end, but I enjoyed every installment!

Anonymous Wormboy said...
Very nicely done, Matt! I do hope you try to get this into book form at some point. It's a lot of hard work, and would take a lot of work on the story structure, but I think you've got the kernel.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Hey, just wanted to say thanks for the Livin' Large series, you are a great story-teller. I got referred to this blog based on the Livin' Large story, but after reading everything else you have put up I am definitely going to keep checking here for basketball related hilarity.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
From the guy from Kokomo whose first two posts you didn't allow to appear, this was a great blog.

It was fun to go down memory lane, as another guy mentioned. I'm sure there are a lot of people that have similar sotires/memories of their undergraduate days.

They just don't have the ability to put them to paper as you do.

Good job from a fellow Kokomoan!!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
awesome end to the series.

that lasted me all the way through the nba offseason, seriously great stuff

Anonymous EvilAsh said...
Thanks for sharing the LL bawful. Gonna miss hitting refresh every 5 seconds just to see if a new installment is up. Cheers!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Thanks for the work. Thank you.

Blogger melcambg said...
Noooo, this can't really be the end, can it?!!! I want more!! Seriously bummed. Now how can I relive my college days fictitiously? Thanks for the great run bawful. It was fun while it lasted.

Anonymous Dan Chan said...
Matt, you forgot the most important character of the story--YOU! Have you found love? Are you married now? Do you have any kids?

Anonymous dxj said...
epic in every sense of the word, and i for one am sad that it's over.

Blogger Buck Nasty said...
'...and that's all she wrote.'

Good work, champ. Thank God the season of Basketball is upon us again, and another epic journey can begin. But this time, it's over the course of 82 games.

Anonymous Jörn said...
Very very awesome!

Anonymous Warren said...
I guess its not too surprising that there're many first time commenters like me. It was a truly epic series and I can't begin to fathom how much it must have cost you emotionally and mentally to dig through your past and show it to the world. If you ever write a book I'll buy it and maybe a few more copies to give to my friends.

Unless its on tech writing.

Blogger Wiley Guy said...
Bravo on an immensely interesting and well-written saga! Like many others here, I looked forward to every installment.

It really brought me back to my days at our esteemed University and residence hall. (I lived in the same hall as you, just down the hall in SE3...I remember Chad very well...you nailed it!) I graduated just before you and Mat arrived on campus. Like you, I was also an R.A. my last year (at the Quad). There the similarities end, however, as I was very fortunate to have a great roommate my freshman year who later became my brother-in-law.

P.S. How do you think the Bulls look this year? It kills me that Gordon went to the Pistons, of all teams.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Thanks for your story!
And I'll just put it out there that 'trash juice' has a wonderfully appropriate technical name- 'leachate'
: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leachate

Blogger GonzoPal said...
Gotta give credit, where credit is due... Thank you man!

Blogger Jared said...
Great blog. I lived in the dorm north of yours in NE3 as well, starting your sophomore year and graduating in '98. A couple of stories.

1) I vividly remember Mat riding that bicycle to your dorm and have spoken of it when reminiscing about the basketball team. I've always described him as looking like a circus bear.

2) Mat's high school basketball coach was the brother of my PE teacher. Our teacher took some friends up to watch him play in high school. Mat was so bad as a junior (maybe a sophomore) that he was playing JV as a 7-footer and not dressing. During the varsity game, my friend was sitting directly behind him and opened up a jolly rancher which proceeded to fall out of the wrapper and directly into the space between Mat's jeans and lower back. It became a running joke.

Thanks for bringing back some great memories of our college days and the inside stories of easily the worst Div. 1 basketball player in the history of the NCAA.

Anonymous bizarro said...
thanks Bawful! you're very talented and gave me a great story to read all summer.
looking forward to any developments this story might have in the future

Blogger CassavaLeaf.com said...
You and I attended the same school (different time) and my roomie was just as bad. I do not think the school does a good job of placing kids together.

For instance my freshman roommate was a racist from Fort Wayne and I'm black

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Bawful: IIRC, you mentioned that you sex0red two out of three. Aimee and Cindy I would guess. Correct?

Anonymous ak dave said...
My school is going to kick your school's ass this weekend in football. Enjoy your loss! Conglaturation!

Blogger CassavaLeaf.com said...
There the similarities end, however, as I was very fortunate to have a great roommate my freshman year who later became my brother-in-law.

^^^^


ummm there is no way in hell i let my best friend bone my sister

Blogger Latin_D said...
Just a short note of congratulations on finishing this great series.

I was an avid reader, and I really think you should try to work this story into another, larger format. A book, a TV show, something.

Regardless, thanks for writing and sharing.

Anonymous colwall said...
matt,

fantastic stuff! - funny touching and honest - you really should write a book.

i can't even remember how i stumbled across your blog - i'm from scotland and know little of the NBA - but i've been hooked since that first read.

so it's been great to get some closure on lots of the characters from your stories - but as some people have already mentioned you've forgotten the most important one - YOURSELF!

please give us some info on how your life as turned out - your readers are dying to know!

great work though - thanks for all your effort!

Blogger AhmedF said...
Epic story - great series.

Anonymous Matt Jones said...
Dude... thank you so so so much for sharing you EPIC story. It has given me so many laughs this year (my last of high school) that I can barely believe it. I will always love the basketball, but Livin Large was something else. Duder, I honestly wish you all the best with life. You are a good man, don't ever lose that. Thank you again, because now I know that if ever I am really down, all I need to do is log onto my email and hit up the little folder on the side that says Livin Large.

Thankyou again,
Matt Jones, Australia

Blogger BadDave said...
Dear ak dave: Scoreboard, baby.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
i have enjoyed your writing very much, thank you for the stories.

Anonymous JR said...
"What I usually think is this: had I gone to ISU instead, I likely would have met people who would have become my friends for life, made a different best friend, and fallen in love with other women. Those people are out there right now...people I would have shared the best times of my life with. But I'll never meet them. We'll live and die never knowing the other person's name, or if they even existed at all. That always gets me for some reason."

This is a beautiful quote... What makes it even crazier to me is that we would be different people. The people we know influence and change us into the people we are, and something like the university we attend is such a life changing event that we could come out completely different people.

So many people I know have changed me in ways that are so unique to that person that I can't possibly imagine meeting another person who could do this. Some of these influences I ignore, but others, like a butterfly flapping its wings, have completely changed the course of my life.

Blogger RuffnReady said...
A fitting end to a great tale. Thanks, Bawful :)

Anonymous Denis said...
Just had to say thanks for sharing the story!

Anonymous G.Zeppelli said...
is it just me, or did the bawful top banner change ever so slightly?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
bawful - thanks for sharing this. It was an awesome story and you're a fantastic writer. Every now and then I hope you get to post some non-basketball stories!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Bawful:

Thanks so much for this GREAT series! I came across it via a message board link on GBI and, like many others, I've looked forward to every installment over the last several weeks/months. Sharing your personal stories brought back so many of my own from my days in WL (1987-91) and how much I love our university. I spent three of those years in the Ross-Ade Apartments which I think later became known as the Hilltop Apartments. They truly were some of the best years of my life! Best wishes to you my friend and B***** Up!

Jason

Blogger T-Mill said...
A Standing ovation for Matt!

Blogger Buck Nasty said...
Ohhhh. AK Dave, baby, what happened? Meanwhile, Zach Randolph takes over the Basketbawful banner due to being a selfish player on a crappy team, and also funnier looking.

Anonymous Hogey said...
Standing ovation for Matt? How about a standing ovation for Larry Hughes!

From TrueHoop:
"On a more positive note, Larry Hughes of the Knicks hit a jump shot with 8:30 remaining to snap his 0-for-18 slump to start the preseason. Hughes finished 1-for-3, upping his accuracy rate to 5 percent in New York’s five exhibition games."

Blogger Jezza said...
oh man...just wanted to say thanks from Melbourne Australia ! Epic entry. Although complete closure would involve a retort from Big Mat ! Love the blog....keeps me awake at work !

Anonymous Anonymous said...
gotta watch this with kareem:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuUJaCUMm10

quote is from:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DMgCT7OBWI

Anonymous Matt said...
Truly fantastic series. Able to simultaneously bring out emotions of happiness and sorrow. A hallmark of great writing.

Any updates on your own love life now?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Glad to hear you still love your/my school. Hope you were proud saturday!

Blogger Matt said...
Matt,
As a longtime reader of this blog I want to thank you for writing it. I've always been sceptical of blogging as 90% of them seem to consist of narcissistic, dreary ramblings. With this series I found myself checking the blog every few days on the off chance you'd posted another installment. You write well and wittily obviously but what hooked me to the LL series was that from the start you wrote with such humility and honesty about your embarrassing moments and shortcomings that everyone was able to relate to you and enjoy the story.
All the best for the future, if this ever expands into a book one day, I will buy it.
Matt from the UK

Blogger eileen said...
thanks, Matt! I spent this summer writing my horrible PhD thesis and Livin Large was one of my few sources of entertainment. I especially enjoyed it because I attended a similar (but much more Catholic) university in your same state around the same time frame. The nostalgia ran deep. Anyways, your writing was very engaging and a great mix of the dark side of sports and the college experience, and I admire your honesty.
Thanks, best wishes, and go Celtics!

Blogger Joe said...
ak dave - I've never seen so many sad people wearing red than what I saw on Saturday, but don't feel too bad, our team has been so close all year and they are better than their record.

Bawful, Thanks for the series. It was truly epic!!! I have season tickets to the basketball team and if you would like to attend a game with me sometime, it's on me. I might even be persuaded into buying you a beer at Harry's.

Blogger Japes said...
Great Job Matt! Awesome ending to an awesome story. Kinda sad to hear how it all ended with Aimee. If you were exhausted writing the 2nd part of the epilogue, I can only imagine how much more it took out of you to write this final installment. I can sort of relate with your relationship with Aimee. I have the same kind of relationship with my ex whom I almost married. That happiness of telling them that it's finally over but at the same time, the sadness of realizing that it is really over. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

Blogger Japes said...
Great Job Matt! Awesome ending to an awesome story. Kinda sad to hear how it all ended with Aimee. If you were exhausted writing the 2nd part of the epilogue, I can only imagine how much more it took out of you to write this final installment. I can sort of relate with your relationship with Aimee. I have the same kind of relationship with my ex whom I almost married. That happiness of telling them that it's finally over but at the same time, the sadness of realizing that it is really over. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

Anonymous Pricetag said...
Thanks so much for sharing. Count me among those who would like to see a Bawful update. After having read all the heartbreak and disappointment you endured during college, it would be nice to hear that you found happiness down the road.

Blogger In BC We Trust said...
Bawful, you're fully in man-crush territory now. It had to be said.

Blogger Mark said...
Man, Bawful ... dude, seriously, this series was really great! I only started reading because I got referred to it on a Dutch basketballsite and I thought it would be fun to check how one of our countrymen fared in the States not too long ago. I never imagined this story would be about so much more.

I know it has been stated before but this series should be made into a movie or a book at the very least. Of course from your point of view it would be great to have the book first and then the movie. ;)

Anyways, you got another regular visitor 'cause of this series.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I don't understand how Livin' Large can be so good and the rest of Bawful can be so bad. I loved Livin' Large as much as anybody with a lot of free-time on there hands at work possibally could. I checked back twice a day to see if there was another installment. I even printed it out for my girlfriend.

I guess I leave with the hope that maybe, just maybe writing this series has been a transformative experience for you. Maybe you will move past the cheesy comics and the amateurish half-baked posts. KEEP WRITING FROM THE HEART MY MAN! LET IT FLOW! DON't TRY TO BE FUNNY. BE FUNNY.

I really think you have the opportunity to be great. Maybe you could do for basketball what a lot of people are already doing for football. You have great potential. Use it.

Blogger Dave said...
Dolla, Dolla bill y'all. This series was top notch Bawful. I had no clue about your blog until a friend of mine told me to visit to read the "Livin' Large" series. Needless to say, I have been, and will continue, visiting the site on a regular basis. Love your writing.

Blogger BadDave said...
Anonymous - I guess I'll speak for Bawful before he gets a chance to retort, but LL was a series that has floated around for 4 years. 4 YEARS. The only I have floating around that long is my wife, and that's because they haven't found her body yet.

Most people here LIKE that stuff. Bawful writes it because it's his shtick, and he writes this site, free of any advertising or outside influence, for his and his audience's satisfaction. So you don't find it funny - then you're probably not part of his audience. We can all live with that.

You also need to understand that, while having a full-time clark kent job, he writes DAILY posts to this blog. He does it without interns, or staff writers. There's nobody else around at 1 AM or on the morning train when he's banging these things out. It's just him.

I am curious - what football writers or sources are you referring to?

Lastly, and this is a touch of blasting, but how do you get to decide funny? A great many people here think this shit is hi-larious. You remind me of Lt. Hauk, from Good Morning Vietnam:

Lieutenant Steven Hauk: I understand you're pretty funny as a dee-jay and, well, comedy is kind of a hobby of mine. Well, actually, it's a little more than just a hobby, Reader's Digest is considering publishing two of my jokes.
Adrian Cronauer: Really.
Lieutenant Steven Hauk: Yeah. And perhaps some night we could maybe get together and swap humorous stories, for fun.
Adrian Cronauer: Oh, why not? Maybe play a couple of Tennessee Ernie Ford records, that'd be a hoot.
Lieutenant Steven Hauk: That's a joke, right?
Adrian Cronauer: Maybe.
Lieutenant Steven Hauk: I get it.

Lt. Steven Hauk: Sir, in my heart, I know I'm funny.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
This was great. Sorry it had to end.

Anonymous Barry said...
Mr Bawful, that was fantastic. Thanks!

Anonymous Jacky said...
Thanks for your epic tale, Bawful. I'm no basketball fan - I'm not even a sports fan - but I've loved reading Livin' Large.

Anonymous Jason (Anonymous) said...
RE: BAD DAVE's RESPONSE TO ANONYMOUS

I admire that you want to defend your friend, but the stats don't lie!

Bawful gets 50+ comments for every Liven' Large entry he writes. He gets linked from other blogs like True Hoop. Complete strangers chime in to tell him he should be working on a movie script and a book. He only gets a handful of comments on the other stuff. Mostly from friends. And nobody is telling him to write a graphic novel.

The Livin' Large story resonates with people. It has a distinct style and point of view. It is a great story from a great story teller. (Yes, I know all this will be taken as a backhanded compliment).

If Bawful wants to write a niche blog for the comic book/ sports crossover crowd than so be it. But if he has any aspirations to ditch his Clark Kent job and do something he loves full time (unlike Superman and me he doesn't need anonymity)than he should devote himself to figuring out what worked with this and try to do more like it.

I won't troll this blog and make negative comments about the stuff I don't like. That's not fair. I just wanted to tell Bawful one time (now two) that I think he's a good writer. I've read the entire Livin Large series multiple times. I want him to do more like it from a selfish persepective. My guess is that if Bawful looks at the question quantatativily he will reach the same conclusion. If he still wants to go a different direction, I wish him all the best.

Thanks for a good series.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
What more can I add to the myriad of comments above mine? Nothing but my shared appreciation of this series. Thank you for being so forthcoming with all of this, it was truly a memorable series :)

Now back to the business of watching the Lakers defend their championship!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
just wanted to say thanks

Blogger truegrit said...
Even though I stopped reading this series (and this blog) after the story became more about Bawful's hapless love life and less about his relationship with Mat, I came back for the final chapters and I'm a little sad its over.

Bawful, you're a great writer, but I think you sometimes lose sight of what people (or at least people like me) want to read. In a nutshell, less stories about Aimee, Susan, Cindy, or whatever and more stories like that trip on the Greyhound bus. That Greyhound bus story about the hillbilly family had me cracking up, but you gave it only one paragraph and God knows how much to your relationship with Aimee.

Anyway, thanks for providing more than a few laughs.

Anonymous Adrià said...
After reading every single article, report, installment, fun fact... that you've been posting from 9 months until today (+ a lot more "Word of the day" and previous posts), I feel I have to explain to you my own story, like you did.

I've been having a brief great time almost every day because of your talent and commitment. It's more than some people we see everyday show and give to us, even when it's needed. Thank you.

In ball we trust (or not)

PS: I hope you will understand my English, I'm not native :P

Blogger Mati said...
thanks for putting in the time and making this series so genuinely fascinating.

Blogger Dan B. said...
"Bawful, you're a great writer, but I think you sometimes lose sight of what people (or at least people like me) want to read."

That's the entire problem with people and the comments on this series -- they assume what they think is what everybody else thinks as well. I personally enjoyed the relationship stuff just as much as the rest of the story, if not more. The real human element that I can relate to is different than just funny stories. Not better, not worse, just different. When it's well written (as it was here), you can really get yourself locked into the story and care about the characters, and also relate it to your own experiences at the same time you're laughing at Mat acting like a gigantic goon. Some people, however, don't appreciate that, and just want the cheap laughs, and that's fine too if you don't connect with the story.

Anonymous Andrew said...
Man, that whole thing was fun. I forgot about the epilogue for a bit and came back. I tend to get lost among the blogs, and it's sad I'll never have new basketbawful installments.

There's enough to reread in a few months, though. The laughs will be fully fresh again.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Bawful,

Thank You for the awesome saga that is Livin' Large. It is humorous, insightful, juicy with gossip (albeit 15-year old gossip), and above all, nostalgic.

It's funny that you mention that you sometimes think about the things you would have done and the people you would have met had you gone to a different university. I too wax nostalgic over thoughts like that. While I barely have any contact with my friends from college, the times we shared together are definitely some of the most memorable experiences in my life. Stuff like driving to San Francisco one night on a spontaneous whim (to be with the soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend of my lovesick roommate) to just all the after-football-game runs to Santa Monica, etc.

I even distinctly remember having just that conversation with my friends about "Was it fate that we all chose the same school and all became friends?" Me being perhaps the least sentimental of my buddies, I retorted that I'd probably be just as happy if I chose our rival school and met all the cool people there.

And yet, university is where I met my wife, the mother of our two boys. Sometimes I think how different my life would be if I instead married the myriad other women I dated, and how they in turn would have been different people had I chose another school.

OpenID jaikp said...
Hey Bawful,

I have pushed off reading the final post because this was such a good read. What stikes me is your honesty in the whole saga: You never made yourself look good, and in the end that made for a really good read.

This was one of the most interesting stories I have ever read, and you would do well to turn it into a book. As a avid street baller, you gave me new insight into basketball. As someone who red shirted one and only one year in a D-2 school, you helped me remember a forgotton era. As someone who has had several challenging relationships, you gave me new insight on myself, and the females I love(d). I am about to go hoop right now, but when i do ill make sure that one of my backboard shaking blocks will be for you.

Good luck in all that you do,

J. Mallory

Anonymous Jules Brown said...
Wha...? Have I missed an entry? One minute you decide to you can't live with Mat any more, and the next thing I know it's the epilogue. Why did he move out? More importantly, what was the Shelly bomb? Most importantly, where can I read about the whole sorry tale?
Yours in anticipation,
Julia in England

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Julia,

If you scroll to the top of the post, there is a "further reading" section that provides links to every part of the story, including parts 1 and 2 of the epilogue.

I haven't collected the story into a single unit yet...so following the links is your best bet.

Hope this helps.

Anonymous Jules Brown said...
Hiya Matt
But at the end of part 24, you decide you can't live with Mat any more... and then it's straight to the epilogue. I read through it all again, part 24, eps 1, 2 and 3, honest I did, I even did a word search for 'Shelly' but nothing. Is there a mystery part 25 that I can't see? Are the answers hidden away in an answer to a comment? I went to a political meeting last night about global recession and climate change, and what was I wondering on the way home? Did she find out what an a**hole he was, or did he dump her? Did Matt think up some cunning ruse to have his enormous roomie ejected or did he just refuse to take no for an answer this time? You see the situation. I need help, and these questions need answering. And if you can answer any of the ones about global warming and recession too, feel free.
Oh and thanks for a great story, I've really enjoyed it, as well as the cultural insight into US college life - which is very different to here I have to say.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I'm with the others when I feel like I'm missing something with the end of the Mat story. How did that come to an end? (Yes, I read through the epilogues.)

Blogger Ed said...
I just caught up on this series after it was recommended to me last year. If you're still reading these comments, you need to answer the last two above mine - what was the Shelly-bomb? I too couldn't find that reference anywhere.

Anyway, thanks, loved it.

Blogger Dafydd said...
I followed a random link in your Worst Champions/Darko piece and found this series.

It has completely destroyed two perfectly good work days and left me behind in my schedule.

I regret nothing!

Awesome read, great storytelling, and some interesting insight into the US college experience. (I'm British, so have a different, boozy POV)

The Shelly-bomb had me a bit confused also...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I read the whole thing as it was posted. There are definately some installments missing.

The Shelly bomb was when Shelly showed up unannounced at the dorm after Mat had moved to a private room in a different part of the dorm and Matt took her to Mat's new room where he was playing the music and getting ready for a date. It was truly a funny payback, as Mat was actually happy to see Matt again and then, boom, Shelly came into view and Mat was caught.

Hopefull Bawful can relink the whole story so we can all read the whole thing again.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
For the missing installment, with the Shelly-bomb story in it, Google Living Large: Part 25

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Matt,

Is there a reason why Part 25 is not in the Further Reading link? Can you add it back in?

Blogger Joe said...
What an amazing read. I grew up in WL and while I didn't go to school there, so many memories of the town and my own college experience were brought back. You tell a great story, thank you for making me lose two evenings of my life reading obsessively!

Joe

Anonymous Flanders said...
Really loved the Livin' Large blog. Actually found it since I was looking what had became of one of my most perticular former teammates ... yup Big Mat.
Not that I have a lot of memories of him, we "somewhat" played togheter in some European team in a small european league right after he graduated in the US.
Don't get me wrong, I never played pro and my role in the team was even smaller than Mat's.
I swear he never scored 25 points in a game that year. Would have been hard in his very limited time on the court also.
He ran out of credit after one season, and was canned to another team in an even smaller European league.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Randomly came across this blog recently and realized that I know and briefly dated the Aimee from the story years later. Overall a good person but from reading this, it doesn't seem that she changed all that much. Wish I read it before; good story.

Blogger Jonathan Nahrwold said...
Thank you for writing this. I went to Purdue about 10 years after you and the way you told your story took me back to the best years of my life. I read the entire story in one day! I never lived with a basketball player but the way you describe being an unsure freshman dealing with love, school, social life, and the Old Gold and Black really impacted me in a profound way. Thank you.

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