Previous installments: Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17. Also check out the official Livin' Large FAQ, Cast List, Flow Chart 1.0, and Flow Chart 2.0.

Author's note: Sorry for the long wait between installments. I didn't realize how badly I needed a vacation until I was actually on vacation. But the Basketbawful Batteries are recharged. So let us continue.

"I feel like an idiot."

"Relax," Susan said. "You look great."

What I looked like was a giant tomato in a pointy red hat. What I was supposed to look like was an inspirational blood drop. Susan and I were promoting a campus blood drive for APO. To do this, I had to walk around campus dressed in a tacky red costume while Susan acted as my escort. The purpose of this circus act was to motivate people to tap a vein for the good of humankind. Or something. Susan seemed to be getting a real kick out of watching me suffer through it. I had never realized humiliation was part of community service.

Actually, humiliation and suffering had become pretty regular components of my APO pledgeship. The previous week, Susan and I had accompanied a group of APO pledges to a retirement community to play cards with some of the elderly folks who lived there. Because there were more pledges than car seats, Susan ended up sitting on my lap (much to my secret delight). Like most college-age girls (not to mention pre and post-college-age girls), Susan was overly concerned about being too heavy. She wasn't, of course, but my right leg still fell asleep during the 20-minute drive. When I tried to get out of the car, my dead leg gave out and I face-planted on the asphalt. "See?!" Susan had said. "I told you I was too heavy."

A few days after that, we participated in the dreaded Stadium Clean-up. At my school, a variety of organizations volunteered to clean the football stadium after home games. Each group received a specific task, and APO was responsible for cleaning the restrooms. I don't know if you've ever seen stadium restrooms after a heated college football game, but they look like several people exploded like beer-and-hotdog-filled piƱatas. The sinks were clogged with vomit, the toilets (and the areas around them) were coated in human waste and the floors were covered with cups, beer bottles (that had been snuck into the stadium) and a non-descript gray slime composed of indeterminate biological matter. The only thing missing from that terrifying glop was a human face moaning "For the love of God, Kill me...KIIIILLLL MEEEEE!!"

And don't think for one second that the men's restrooms were in any better condition than the women's restrooms. The women's were worse. Part of the reason for this was the large pile of used feminine hygiene products that had been carelessly discarded on the floor around the toilets. This forced the creation of the so-called "Jelly Roll Patrol," which was a group of APOers who stalked the bathrooms with giant tongs and biohazard bags. Nice, huh? The whole Stadium Clean-up experience was pretty disgusting, but it did count for three hours worth of service, which was key for completing our 30 hours worth of pledgeship.

So anyway, the blood drop costume was just the latest form of hazing. As Susan and I walked through one of the main campus libraries, we passed a group of high schoolers who were being shown around campus. "And if you decide to attend our university," the tour guide told them, "you'll see many groups promoting healthy living activities. That man in the apple costume is probably promoting healthy eating." Most of the kids just stared at me, but one comedian at the back of the group offered, "Dude looks more like a red turd." He wasn't wrong.

"This couldn't possibly get any weirder," I said as we left the library. Of course, it got weirder almost as soon as those words left my mouth. The LesBiGay alliance was holding a rally between the library and the building the housed the APO office. And, naturally, we had to pass directly through it.

The rally folks were chanting: "We're gay and it's okay! We're gay and it's okay!" As Susan and I strolled through the group, one guy asked me, "Are you out and proud?"

"Nope," I said. "I prefer vagina to buttholes. But I appreciate the interest."

Some girl nearby said, "You're such a typical hetero asshole."

I looked at Susan and let out an exaggerated sigh. "Remember when 'gay' meant happy?" Susan just stared straight ahead and tried to act like she didn't know me.

One thing college taught me pretty quickly is that being a do-gooder kind of sucks. Not only was I doing (mostly) thankless community service work for APO, I was also a Campus Security Escort. The Campus Security Escorts were a group of men who volunteered to walk women across campus at night to ensure their safety. There was no pay involved and almost no gratitude. In fact, half of the women I escorted treated me like a Campus Security Rapist. One woman in particular had me walk her all over campus for almost two hours in the rain -- I didn't have an umbrella and she didn't offer to share hers -- and then literally sprinted away from me when we reached her apartment.

Campus Security Escort calls came at all hours of the night, usually when I was studying and sometimes when I was sleeping. Mat always got a hearty chuckle out of my various charity missions. He simply couldn't understand why I would give up so much time, expend so much effort, and put up with so much inconvenience without receiving anything tangible in return.

"So they aren't paying you?" he'd ask.

"No, it's strictly volunteer," I'd reply.

"And dese girls aren't sleeping wit you?"

"No," I'd say, "It's no strings attached."

He couldn't believe it. "Not even a blowjob?"

"No, not even a blowjob."

"Fuck me," he'd say, shaking his head.

So Mat didn't have much of an understanding for community service. As I wriggled out of that costume, I tried to imagine Mat walking around school dressed as a seven-foot, 300-pound blood drop. If I'd had any money, I would have paid to see that.

After walking Susan back to her dorm, I headed back to my room. I was hoping with every fiber of my being that Mat wouldn't be there. Unfortunately, he was. Even more unfortunately, something was wrong. Like, seriously wrong. The big man was on the phone, speaking rapidly in Dutch...and crying.

I dropped my book bag onto my desk and started unpacking it, but in all honestly I wasn't paying attention to texts and notebooks. I was staring open-mouthed at my roommate. Seeing such a huge, powerful-looking man weep was nearly inconceivable. You know, short of him having his genitals torn off by a rusty piece of farm equipment. I would have sooner expected to see a stone pillar cry.

When it became obvious he wasn't getting off the phone any time soon, I sat down and started thumbing through some book or another. I have no idea how I killed the time. Finally, he hung up. I didn't waste any time pretending nothing was up.

"Dude," I said, "what's going on?"

"My best friends. Dey all died. Car accident."


Turns out a small group of his childhood friends had been involved in some kind of head-on collision. He didn't have many details at the time, and he never shared them with me later. But the gist of it was, all four of them -- or maybe there were five, I'm not sure -- died instantly.

Mat plopped into his chair and covered his face in his large hands. "Aw, fuck me, man. I'm fucked up."

I felt so bad for the poor guy I could have hugged him. I tried to imagine what it would have been like if Greg, Gauvin, Dave D., Mikey and one or more of my other high school buddies had all died at the same time. Emotionally speaking, it would have been catastrophic.

I sat down on my bed. "Do you need to talk?"

"Yeah," he said. And we talked. Well, that is, Mat talked and I listened. He told me about his friends, the places they went, the adventures they had together. The stories weren't exotic or all that unique. They were, for the most part, the sort of hanging-out-with-your-buddies tales that all guys have and memorize and spend the rest of their lives telling and re-telling whenever they get together.

Only Mat wouldn't be getting together with his friends ever again. So while listening to him talk, I almost felt like crying. The situation was seriously tragic.

I don't know how long Mat talked, but eventually his reverie was interrupted by a phone call. He answered it, spoke a few words in Dutch, then grabbed his keys and walked out of the room. I didn't see him for three days. I never did find out where he went or what he did. And he never spoke about his friends to me again.

During his absence, Future NBA All-Star stopped by the room. Ostensibly, he came by to drop off a new Nike bag that all the basketball players were receiving for an upcoming tournament. However, I sort of felt like it was a mini-recruiting trip. The jury was still out on whether or not Mat would play or redshirt, but chances were that Future NBA All-Star still felt that Mat could help the team contend for a national title.

"Hey," Future NBA All-Star said, "Mat around?"

"Uh, no," I said.

"You know when he'll be back?"

"Not really," I said. "I haven't seen him, ah, today. Yet."

"Okay, cool," Future NBA All-Star said. "Give him this bag for me. Tell him we're supposed to use it when we go to the tournament. Everybody's gotta use 'em."

"Yeah, sure, no problem," I said.

"Awright, thanks," he said. Then he was gone. And I still hadn't asked for an autograph. I couldn't help but wonder why I was so lame.

I also wondered whether Mat would play or not. Of course, the question about whether or not Mat was going to play would soon become moot. But not by his choice...

Part 19

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Anonymous bizarro said...
great read! welcome back baskebawful

Blogger Joe Ensley said...
Are we going to have the Midnight Madness recap of Future NBA All Star jumping over Mat?

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Joe -- Yes. That will be mentioned in the next installment.

Blogger said...
about time you get back into the swing of things....

btw: we are having a purdue party in st. thomas, virgin islands right now

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Amazing. I'm not sure whether the wait for this Part actually made it even better than it already is.

I realized the humiliation/humility thing on a trip to Korea. There were teens at part time jobs like in fast food restaurants similar to how it is in America, but they were required to dress in completely ridiculous looking uniforms/hats/etc., yet act in a more customer friendly manner than their USA counterparts, at probably less pay.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Hopefully we won't have to wait a week for the next installment.

I need my fix of Livin Large and this didn't even come close to easing the cravings.

Blogger Cortez said...
"And I still hadn't asked for an autograph. I couldn't help but wonder why I was so lame."

Asking for the autograph would have been lame.

...unless you were selling it.

Blogger said...
the story is kinda sad because he didn't have any real friends on campus and his true friends perished.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
CassavaLeaf -- I hear that's a nice school. Wish I could be in the Virgin Islands helping with the celebration.

AnacondaHL -- Pictures! Need them!

Anonymous #1 -- No, I will not make you guys wait another week, I promise.

Cortez -- I'd never ask an NBA player, past or present, for an autograph now. Not even my beloved L. Bird. (I would ask to shake the Legend's hand, tho'.) However, I was 18 years old and caught up in the "He's going to be the next Great Player" hype. It felt like an opportunity I should take advantage of.

By the way, when are we going to get some pickup in? I haven't touched a basketball in months...I needed the break...and I'm going to need to start getting my skills back in order.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Great story- This should be a book- I would be the first in line- One question I have- about how many installments will there be?

Blogger Will said...
I thought it was hilarious that a lesbian would be pissed off that a straight man would prefer vaginas to buttholes. What's a brotha to do?
Don't try to play off today's semi-cliffhanger as unintentional, you totally meant to do that.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
No details from your Carolina vacation? Did you get a chance to use that "I prefer vagina to buttholes" line while you were there? :)

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Will -- It was indeed intentional. :)

Wild Yams -- No, I didn't use that line. I basically laid down in the sand and didn't move again for a week. GOOD TIMES.

Blogger BJ said...
Oh no. Now I'm feeling sorry for the sonofabitch . . . especially because I'm assuming the Reality Check from the basketball gods is about to bounce. Poor guy.

Anonymous Boudicca's daughter said...
And we're back; thank goodness!!!

Glad you're feeling rested and refreshed; hope that means lots more episodes:-), she says,selfishly...

That was a good'un and a totally unexpected twist.Poor Big Mat and poor your younger self, you had a shedload of new experiences in a very short space of time. Do you feel it made you grow up quicker or was it all just very odd and overwhelming?

Blogger Steve Lee said...
Welcome back Bawful,

I seriously feel like i had to go into hibernation to fight the pain of refreshing your website without any signs of Livin Large coming up. I believe you alone have increased my work efficiency 400% last week.

Anyways, any plans on that Twitter? Would help me out a lot. If you pay me on the side I can even impersonate you if you would like. ( eh?

Blogger Dan B. said...
Matt McHale ending a Livin' Large entry with a cliffhanger? Inconceivable!!

I did like the humanizing of Mat in this update. That and the LesBiGay alliance rally reminded me of something out of the movie PCU. You know, without a 30 year old Jeremy Piven playing a college student.

Anonymous RunBoilerRun said...
Bawful, you're a good guy to be a Campus Security Escort. This service was incredibly important during my tenure at said school when one of our football players decided to run around campus attacking females.

Blogger Japes said...
I don't know how you managed Susan sitting on your lap for 20 mins without your blood pressure rising...

Blogger Wild Yams said...
I'm a big fan of PCU, even if Piven was a good decade or two too old to be in it. Here's my fun fact about PCU for you: did you know the movie was directed by this guy from Die Hard?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
that's kinda weird that it's all guy security thing.

our university you had to be paired up with a girl for that

Bawful, glad you're back. I found your blog and read all Livin Large entries in a day. To have nothing for a few days was bad for me. Can't imagine what it's been like for your more seasoned readers.

One question. Did you ever find out where Mat would disappear to? Even if you don't know it would make for some excellent fiction. I can see it now Livin' Large: Stories from Mat's Hideaway.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
That up-all-night thing would later become a hallmark of Bawful's college career. He served as an overnight door-checker at our hall (at least he got paid), made many a midnight run to Butler and Jehosephat knows that we stayed up watching ball & playing video games. It's a large part of why he functions on 5 hours or less regularly now.

You also had to love the early 90s. Either you were gay/lesbian/etc. or you hated all of them. The idea of being a straight supporter of people, or as I like to say "I don't care where you put your schlong, just don't be a douche and we're cool" didn't become okay until a decade later. Progress one step at a time, I guess.

Lastly, that there blood drop was an ominous portent of Bawful's future, as well. One time he donated plasma. The machine for that takes your blood, separates the plasma, and then returns the rest. I was chilling in the room and he literally sagged into the room. Something went very wrong, and he had to walk back the 1.5 miles or so to our hall. Like a dying man in the desert, the doorknob supported him into his desk chair, where I watched him turn from Matt
to BawfulZombie. As a supportive roommate, I let him suffer in silence for a few hours, and then mocked him for months.

VW: impants. Sorry, no jokes. My head just exploded.

Blogger Dan B. said...
Wild Yams -- That guy? Seriously? That's awesome. PCU was a great movie despite the fact that there was zero improvisation allowed. The actors were all required to stick exactly to the script, which usually is a bad idea, but this was a really good script, so they pulled it off. Having George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic in the house didn't hurt things as well. And that one girl in it was pretty easy on the eyes too. I wonder if the Fuse TV channel still show that movie something like five times a day like they did a year or so ago...

Anonymous Big C said...
This is truly one of the funniest blogs I have read in a long time. My brother forwarded it to me and my other brother. All [School Name Deleted] alumni. It took roughly two paragraphs in Part 1 to figure out you were paired with [Mat's Last Name Deleted] (don't even remember the spelling of his last name). I barely have had a chance to read all your posts let alone the comments but anyone should easily be able to figure it out relatively quickly even if they didn't go to [School Name Deleted] (such as half of your flag football team having [School Name Deleted] gear on).

I played with [Future NBA All-Star] a couple of times at the Co-Rec. He rarely played over there after his Prop 48 season as too many people wanted to make a move on him and he feared injury. I got to know most of the guys on that team and several of them - relatively well as I ran with them often - a couple of times - at [Arena Name Deleted].

[Future NBA All-Star] never wanted to be a star. He was really a pretty simple person with absolutely crazy talent. He didn't like the spotlight and didn't like being the go-to guy. It just happened no-one could stop him. The worst thing that happened to him was his jackass agent demanding the $100MM contract which ultimately got him dubbed the $100MM man and made Hill's $80MM look paltry (what did Hill ever do in comparison...?)

He was double and triple teamed from game one of his shortened first season and the entire Buck's offense was designed around him - absolutely careless for any coach that knew anything of his personality. However, that is typical NBA BS which is why their fan base has virtually fallen off the cliff and remains largely subsidized by the few diehards 9such as yourself) that just cant detach yourself from the love of the game. Personally, I gave up on the NBA after Patrick Ewing took 5 steps on his way to a layup on two consecutive nights to beat the Pacers as there was NO WAY Stern was going to let that small market team into the finals and risk the TV revenue. I now just play in rather competitive leagues in teh Detroit area and coach. Even the college game has become rather muddled with the "Advantage/No Advantage" style of completely subjective refereeing (think Duke and the NCAAs...)

With that being said - [Future NBA All-Star] wanted to be near home and thus he landed in Milwaukee. His love for the game was quickly torn away by the constant demands for production and promotional work by the team and NBA. Again - he was only a 50 point scorer in college because he was that much better than the rest. He was much more closely matched in the NBA. Even so - as you noted with his lifetime numbers - there are a short list of people ahead of him with better numbers. I would have loved to see him play with the passion and aggressiveness he had on the playgrounds when it was just about the game and having fun. Few outside of Gary got to see that from him and it is a shame.

I only ran into Mat a couple of times. What I remember of him makes your blog completely believable. I had several of those types of experiences with a close friend my freshman year who roomed with one of the predominate football players that year. We once came back to their room when his roomie had a couple of players over, they were all playing PS2 and there were two women servicing the losers of the PS2 tournament as they awaited their rematch. We were invited to share in the round robin tournament. My friend was much more wise to that than I - who was a lot more like you and must have had a look on my face like I just saw my grandma being fucked by a goat.

Looking back - I should have banged the shit out of those two...

Great Blog - brought back many memories/stories of those years that I hadn't thought about in a while.

I am almost entirely sure I ran with you over the Co-Rec. When were you there?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Bawful was a door checker? No wonder he didn't understand the ladies...HE IS GAY!!! All of the signs are adding up. Door checker, D&D guy, tight Larry Bird shorts, never even kissed a girl, didn't watch (or join in) while Mat fucked the other chicks, held his pillow around his head, liked hanging out in the fish bowl, got angry when asked about his sexuality, his pictures, and many, many more things. I think it's pretty obvious...than "man" is a flaming HOMO!!! Good story, but you can come out of that closet, now!


Blogger Nick Flynt said...

Waiting for eva. Finally. Finally. finally.

Blogger Unknown said...
GREAT read!!! I've been hanging on since the 1st installment!

Fellow Bawful readers, please elp me win thi on-line voting poll to fund my continued education--I'd really, really appreciate it.

All you have to do is follow the link:

and then type in an-email address and hit "VOTE."

You can vote up to 2x per e-mail address entered. Thanks for any help!

James Sells

p.s. keep the installments coming Bawful... :)

Anonymous Anonymous said...
What happened to Cobra and his story from the comments of LL #17?

Anonymous plasticAir said...
Love this blog. I was introduced Living Large episode-8ish era. I also found the Italy videos very entertaining.

My only concern is once the season starts up, I wonder what the blog is like. I would assume there is nothing to worry about. But hopefully its not just recaps of Pacers games.

I fear change...tell me everything will be okay.

None the less, this blog has been put in my daily check-in bookmark tab (no RSS for me, old school internet-er here). See ya tomorrow.

Blogger Unknown said...
This series of installments has been a great help while trying to kill time during the most boring summer job I've ever had. Freakin' hilarious for me especially seeing as I am currently a college student attending a certain school that may or may not have won the championship last year, and also because I too have had some unpredictable friendships/run-ins with scholarship athletes. Keep 'em coming!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Big C...was PS2 anywhere near created at this time? Is this a mistake, am I missing something, or are you talking completely out of your ass?

Just curious.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
anonymous on cobra--I was just thinking the same thing, lol

Anonymous Geert said...
Maybe Mat was a crimefighter when he went away for days. All those girls were just saved damsels in distress. Or he was a spy for the Dutch gouvernment. Any spy-worthy things in the neigbourhood?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Is everyone who writes a basketball blog bald????

Henry Abbot is bald, Basketbawful is bald and even Evil Ted is bald.

What is it with basketball and shaved heads?

Blogger said...
what's up w/white dudes and bald heads?

u should totally get that keady comb over

Anonymous mj said...
Good to hear the sweet sweet voice of the bawful...

Blogger Airball Men said...
finally, LIVIN' LARGE!

your vacation was well deserved, man. but it's always good to have you back.

btw, i hope y'all can support the new basketball blog my friends and i started:

Anonymous Marc said...
Anon: Don't forget John Hollinger

Blogger T-Mill said...
No wonder Bawful was fighting the womens off with a stick at this point. he was a freakin' boy scout!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
This is brilliant, I'm a 26 year old Brit female reading this from my desk in an office in London, I know nothing about basketball or the US college experience, what I do know is this blog is bloody hilarious.
Love it!

Blogger chris said...
So Matholomew, if we could turn the tables a bit...what would be the perfect ridiculous food-related costume for each of the Livin' Large Ladies?

Blogger Joey said...
Solid comeback. I think Mat should dress up as the blood drop when he goes to his new profession.


Blogger said...
so i click on BIG C's name after that long comment and read that he's a lubricant engineer lol...

Boiler UP!!!! C

I was actually there during the Willie Dean era

Anonymous Anonymous said...
The blood drop suite was in use during the late 70s/early 80s. I hope for your sake, it was dry cleaned at least a few times since going into use.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
TMill is much closer than Anonymous "FB."

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Just curious..roughly how many installments do you expect to have when the story is all said and done?

Anonymous Pok Flied Lice said...
@British Anonymous: "bloody"- heh, kind of a fitting punt for this episode

Matt, can u see what u have done to ur blog... commentship dropped by over 60% with that delay... It's like the NBA going from Jordan-era to Kobe-era

Blogger De Roockerij said...
Hi. Just found out this blog and this is a great read!

I'm actually from Holland and i actually know Mat, not personally but i know who he is. I'm a kickbox referee and he's an amateur kickboxer... i'll see to it he will get this ilnk... must be a laugh for him too!


Anonymous Anonymous said...
i haven't read the comments on the other posts but I want to know who Mat and future NBA all star are!!! Can someone please post a youtube link or anything that could help me out- Thanks!

Great blog by the way- Love it!

Anonymous TWH said...
"APO Blood Drive, don't be a drip, give a drop!"

How sad is it that so much of my college education are now fried brain cells, but THAT particular nugget has stuck with me all these years? I guess if you see/hear something long and often enough, it becomes hardwired.

Blogger Unknown said...
Well since it doesn't appear we'll be getting another installment b4 the weekend......BRING ON COBRA!!!!!


Anonymous Anonymous said...
You are quite the tease! Came on strong in the beginning but now you're slackin off!

s'alright though, typical male characteristic ;)

Blogger Big C said...
to the anonymous poster about the PS2. I have no idea if it was PS2, Nintendo, Sony, or the Atari 2600. The last (and pretty much only video game I ever played) was PacMan on an Atari machine which I think I might have cleared 2 screens. The football players would have the tournaments and women would be available. I never participated in either. I couldn't play video games and although I wasn't quite as inept as Matt when it came to women my freshmen year - that scenario still scared the living shit out of me not to mention the vestibules of Catholicism still had rather firm grips around my soul.