turkey day

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

Because I didn't keep close track of Mat's schedule and he rarely shared anything important with me, I have no idea when exactly he retook his SAT. All I kinda-sorta know is that it happened shortly before Thanksgiving break. To the best of my knowledge, he did nothing to mark the occasion. I had expected Mat to scream with with primal rage, party until a major organ failed, throw an orgy...something. But he "celebrated" by hanging around the room and sleeping a lot. In retrospect, it makes sense. Not only had he been forced to use more brain power than, well, maybe ever, but he also wouldn't know whether he'd actually passed until some time after the break. Ergo, there wasn't any cause for merriment just yet.

Meanwhile, I was very much in the mood to celebrate. I reached the end of November of the first semester of my freshman year. I had an "A" in every class. My professors were impressed by me. I was working for the school newspaper, and the adult advisor was likewise impressed. My basketball skills were being honed by the superior (compared to my hometown) competition at the Co-Rec. And, most importantly, Aimee and I had been a couple for almost a month. College wasn't all that. In the immortal words of Dr. Peter Venkman: I came, I saw, I kicked its ass.

So my upcoming trip home for the break seemed (to me anyway) like the return of a conquering hero. I was now a successful college student with his first serious girlfriend. Sad as it sounds, I couldn't wait to parade Aimee around in front of my old friends. My hometown buddies either weren't dating or weren't seeing someone as attractive as Aimee, so naturally I felt like The Man. (In fact, Gauvin had tried and failed to date Aimee in high school, so there was some unspoken oneupsmanship going on between us.) And speaking of Aimee, I was almost literally frothing at the mouth to see her. We hadn't had a face-to-face since she'd visited me on November 5th (and left the 6th). Two and a half weeks was waaaaaay too long to wait. My hormones were starting to eat each other. But such were the lives of the Young and the Car-less. (Or, in my case, the Car-less on Campus, since my school didn't let freshman have a car on campus.)

Officially, my school held classes until the day before Thanksgiving. However, my professors cancelled their Wednesday classes. Apparently, they weren't thrilled by the prospect of dealing with countless hyper freshmen who weren't going to retain anything they learned that day anyway. As a result, I had more goof-off time than normal. I used that time chatting online, watching old NBA games on VHS or just laying around daydreaming about Aimee.

My mom was picking me up on Wednesday afternoon. By 10 a.m., I was packed and ready to go. By 11 a.m., I was pacing the floor. By noon, I was ready to climb the walls. The wait seemed unbearable. I tried to kill a little time checking to make sure I had everything I needed for my four-day holiday. Four shirts and one pair of jeans? Check. Four pairs of underwear and a pile of (hopefully matching) socks? Check. One ginormous bag of dirty clothes for my mom to launder? Very check. Yep. That was everything.

Even in the midst of my irrational exuberance, I couldn't help but notice that Mat -- who, shockingly enough, was already awake -- was more subdued than usual. In fact, he looked downright bummed out. It suddenly occurred to me that Mat didn't have any family in the U.S. And while I was fairly certain the Dutch didn't celebrate American Thanksgiving, he still had to watch everyone around him leave to be with friends and loved ones. That made it a pretty a shitty time to be stuck by yourself in a stinky dorm on a deserted college campus.

I groaned inwardly. By this point, my pity cup should have been bone dry. I shouldn't have cared less about how Mat was spending Thanksgiving. But I've always been a sensitive, sympathetic idiot. It's caused me a lot of grief over the years. And it looked like it was going to happen again.

"So," I said, "what, uh, what are you doing for the break?" I didn't bother to ask whether he celebrated Thanksgiving to avoid the appearance of cultural ignorance.

"Dunno," he grunted. "Don't have any plans." He didn't take his eyes off the TV.

Damn it. Now I had to ask. "Are you...eating Thanksgiving dinner with anybody."

"Dunno," he said again.


"My mom always makes way more food than my family can eat," I said, mentally punching myself in the groin. "So if you don't have anything else to do, you could, you know, come to Kokomo and have Thanksgiving dinner for us."

Now he looked at me. "Seriously?"

"Seriously," I said, hoping my mom wouldn't freak too much...and also hoping that, if he did show up, Mat wouldn't wolf down so much food that there wouldn't be any leftovers.

"Hey, thanks," Mat said. "If I got nothing else goin' on, I'll come." He looked genuinely grateful.

"Uh, cool," I said. "I'll just leave my home phone number and some directions. Just call me if you think you're gonna show."

"Okay," he said. I had no idea how he was going to travel the 50-some miles to Kokomo if he chose to accept my invitation, and I didn't ask. I figured someone as worldly as Mat could figure it out. Besides, I didn't want him to ask me to come pick him up. I wasn't even sure if he'd fit in my car.

My mom finally showed up a little after 1 p.m. We had been on the road for maybe five minutes when I dropped the bombshell.

"Hey, Mat didn't have anywhere to go for Thanksgiving, so I invited him to our dinner," I said.

"Really? That was nice of you," she said, and she seemed to mean it.

"Is that cool?" I asked.

"It should be fine," she said. "You know I always make enough food to feed an army." Then she said, "Can you imagine what your grandparents will say when they see him?"

By the time we got back to stately McHale Manor in Kokomo, the phone was ringing off the hook. My closest high school buddies -- Greg, Gauvin, Dave D., Mikey (a.k.a. Statbuster), Hornbuckle -- all wanted to get together. And of course there was Aimee. I told my friends to me us at Pizza Hut. I got the feeling Aimee would have rather had me to herself -- the part where she said she'd rather have me to herself was the tipoff -- but she was a good sport about it. I think she liked the fact that I wanted to show her off to my friends.

Pizza Hut was a blast. When I first went away to college, it had been tough adjusting to life on a campus with 30,000-plus students where nobody knew you and all of your past accomplishments were meaningless. I had felt like a nameless, faceless number. But I had made it (or so I thought). I had survived and prospered. I felt big. Much bigger than my dinky little hometown. So during that meal of pizza and breadsticks, I acted like a king holding court. And it was good to be king.

Until the bill came, that is. It was something like $35. Or, put another way, $5 per person between seven poor college students. Nobody had any money except me and Hornbuckle. Now mind you, Hornbuckle was wealthy (at least by Kokomo's standards). In fact, he had over $100 in random bills wadded up in his pocket. But Hornbuckle was a cheap bastard, so he categorically refused to pay for any more than his share of the meal. That stuck me with the other $30 plus tip, which pretty much wiped me out, cash-wise. I really hoped Aimee enjoyed the "date," because there wasn't going to be another one on this trip home.

When we finally left Pizza Hut, Greg, Gauvin and Dave D. went home. Mikey and Hornbuckle followed me and Aimee back to her house, where we spent the next few hours goofing around with Mikey's video camera (he wanted to go into television production or somesuch). At one point, we used some of Aimee's hair products to style Hornbuckle's hair into a faux hawk, spikes, and various other weird shapes. Just another wild night in Kokomo, Indiana. But what more could you expect from a town where the night life often revolves around trips to Wal-Mart and Meier. And no, I'm not kidding.

When I woke up the next morning, my first thought was: Holy crap. What if Mat actually shows up to my Thanksgiving dinner?! But he never did, and he never called either. Apparently, he found better things to do...much to my secret relief.

As it happened, my mom was having Thanksgiving lunch and Aimee’s mom was having Thanksgiving dinner, so I was able to attend both. I probably consumed about 30,000 calories that day. Seriously, I suffered the Turkey Coma to end all Turkey Comas. I remain convinced to this day that it was nearly the first recorded Turkey Death. I had so much to eat that day I have never once been hungry since. True story.

Friday was spent munching halfheartedly on leftovers and chilling out with Aimee. I think the most ambitious thing we did that day was play a game of Scrabble.

Then Saturday came, and that was a day I was dreading. Even though I had done everything in my power to avoid it, I knew the time had come to tell Cindy I was dating Aimee. And by "the time had come" I actually mean "it was long overdue." But my plan had always been to tell Cindy in person, out of respect, and this was (more or less) the first chance I'd had to do that.

I called her. "Hey, Cindy. How was your Thanksgiving."

"Fine," was all she said, and I really should have known I was in trouble by the tone of her voice.

"Cool," I said. "So, uh, are you doing anything today? I figured maybe we could go out for a milkshake or something..."

"Wouldn't you rather go have a milkshake with Aimee?"

I was struck speechless.

"My sister ran into Melanie Z., who's friends with Aimee's sister, Lesley," Cindy said. "She said you guys have been dating for a month. Is that true?"

"Well, uh, the, erm..." I stammered out.


"I never intended to..." I began.


"...never intended to string you along, I just wanted to tell you in person..."


"...but I wasn't going to be home..."

"...SUCH A JERK..."

"...because I really care about you..."


"...things just sort of happened..."

"...HATE YOU..."

Yeah. At some point during all that I just blanked out. I wasn't really interested in being yelled at for an hour or whatever, but I had kind of screwed her over, so I figured the least I could do was let her vent her outrage. You know, get it out of her system. During the tongue-lashing, I was forcibly reminded of Mat being told off by Jennifer, and how he just sat and listened to it without really caring. It sent cold shivers up and down my spine. Was I really like Mat? Even just a little bit?! It wasn't a pleasant thought.

Suffice it to say, Cindy and I didn't talk for a while after that.

Getting blasted by Cindy had nearly singed my eyebrows off, but fortunately I had Aimee and her gentle kisses to make me forget. (Although my inner voice taunted me by saying, "That's such a Mat thing to do.") We spent the rest of the break holding hands, snuggling up and sneaking kisses whenever possible. What little time I didn't spend with Aimee was split between my friends and my mom...which succeeded in pleasing no one. My friends felt I was putting hoes before bros (even though that phrase hadn't been invented yet), and my mom felt like I was putting everybody ahead of family (and in this case, "family" meant her). For my part, I couldn't understand why people wouldn't just let me enjoy having a girlfriend for once.

When I returned to school on Sunday, my room was in a state of serious disarray: beer bottles, pizza boxes and random trash was all over the floor. But on the bright side, my stuff had been more or less left untouched (except for my case of Coke, which was now empty). All I really cared about was that nobody had been sleeping -- or doing anything else -- in my bed.

I briefly considered the pizza boxes and wondered of those has been Mat's Thanksgiving dinner. I wondered if maybe I should have offered to drive him to Kokomo. I quickly banished those thoughts, though. He was a big boy. A very, very big boy. He knew how to use the phone. (Although it only occurred to me as I was writing this that his long distance calling code might have been deactivated. Oops.)

Against my better judgement, I started clearing away the trash. Not to help my roommate, but because I hate messy rooms. During the cleanup, it occurred to me that there were only a few more weeks left in the semester. Then I'd get three weeks off. I couldn't wait. It also occurred to me that Mat might not pass his SAT, which would mean he might be gone by next semester. I almost danced a jig just thinking about it.

Of course, I couldn't get that lucky.

Part 23

Labels: ,

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Another awesome installment! I'm also finding your other stuff quite interesting, too. You've picked up another faithful follower!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
So, Bawful, what did Mat have to say about being alone on Thanksgiving because his teammates were all up in Alaska winning the Shootout? Do you suppose he even watched it?

Blogger Scott said...
Are any of the people in this story now members of "BreakSk8", the rollerskating breakdancing crew from Kokomo?

Blogger Will said...
"But I had made it (or so I thought)"
Nice piece of foreshadowing, Mr. Bawful.

Blogger ChrisH said...
not sure if this has been asked/answered: have you heard from mat since you started posting these chapters?

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Ahaha, a month? Man my timeframe is kinda messed up in this story, because damn you totally pulled a Mat.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
AnacondaHL - You know what that means! It's time for a timeline! You want to take it or do you want me to do it?

Blogger Victor said...
I was sooo hoping that Mat would show up to your Thanksgiving dinner.

Blogger CassavaLeaf.com said...
I hated thanksgiving in Hicktown, IN
I was from abroad and was forced to either stay in town and hang out with the townies at The Chocolate Shop or go to someone else's home

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Nar - Hrm. It'd be more like a Gaant chart than a timeline, since some of the dates are fuzzy (for example, the Taco Bell Jennifer breakdown), but it's possible.

I'm more interested in Matt's mom's reaction to Matt inviting Mat to Thanksgiving dinner. Again with the non-chalance, and similar innuendo to when they first met Mat. Bawful, it honestly almost seems like you're writing it as if every female that met Mat became a cougar lickin' her chops for a meal, yet you were just oblivious to it all. In hindsight, was it just amazement at his sheer size, or amazement at his sheer size?

Blogger chris said...
AnacondaHL: A slight edit.

"it honestly almost seems like you're writing it as if almost every female that met you, Matholomew, became a cougar lickin' her chops for a meal, yet you were just oblivious to it all."

Blogger Steve Lee said...
You know what Bawful, no matter how much you felt guilty about some of your feelings toward Mat, I think its very admirable that you asked him to come to Thanksgiving. It must've meant something to him.

Blogger Will said...
The only thing I didn't like about this post is that the anonymous horde won't be wondering why Taco Bell Jen is still in the story.

Blogger Caleb Smith said...
Agreed with Steve Lee. That was a solid gesture.

Blogger Unknown said...
Mr. Bawful I must say sir, that you are a very good writer. This is the first blog I have ever followed, so please, more Livin' Large!

Anonymous RunBoilerRun said...
It's nice to see someone courteous enough to notice/care about their roommate spending a holiday alone. Since I'm from Texas and said school was a plane ticket away, I wasn't able to go home for smaller holidays like Easter. My roommate and I weren't close but we were definitely more amicable than you and Mat, yet she never once flinched when leaving to go home. Maybe people from Kokomo are just nicer than those from Ft. Wayne.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
dude, this hornbuckle guy seems to be a big bastard!

Blogger chris said...
RunBoilerRun: No wonder Fort Wayne's NBA D-League mascot is so scary looking...

Anonymous BuzzBuzzard said...
People order food at a restaurant and have no means of paying for it? Sorry, that's a lesson you learn when you're about 12.

Blogger Nick said...
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Was there reference to Carlin on Campus?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
why people in US split the bill in a restaurant? do you actually take the bill around the table and everyone calculates for himself how much he ate/drink? wow

It is pretty akward being a foregner and attending Thanks giving dinners. There's always one dumb ass that asks you if you celebrate Thanks giving in your home country - same guy asked me two years in a row...and we were roommates, it wasn't like he was trying to strike a small talk.

It was a nice gesture you invited Mat, and I'm pretty sure he appreciated it (maybe on some deep level, but still...). It sucks to watch everybody around you being all excited to be with their families while you are by yourself in a foreign country. Been there and it sucks ass.

Blogger Unknown said...
"why people in US split the bill in a restaurant? do you actually take the bill around the table and everyone calculates for himself how much he ate/drink? wow"

You can actually just tell the waiter/waitress right when you sit down you want to each pay for your own and they bring you separate checks at the end. Pretty hard concept to grasp, I know. Kind of like tipping I suppose.

I also was wondering if Mat has contacted you since you began this blog. Would be interesting to see where he is at these days.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Ok, we're lovin the posts, but isn't it time to speed up a little? We're 22 posts in and it's still only the end of November of the first semester! When's the crunch going to come for Mat? We wanna know what happens to the big lug

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Bawful, read the comment waiting for moderation, some guy from Kokomo taking offense thinking your 18-yr-old self is somehow misrepresenting people of Kokomo, it's pretty LOL.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Long-time reader, first-time poster. Just wanted to say I find the Livin' Large segment very entertaining. I was born in Kokomo but moved to FL at a very young age so it has been interesting to hear what I missed out on by leaving Kokomo but apparently I didn't miss much.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
to be honest with you
it's not that hornbuckle is being a loser or whatever

it's more like the rest of ur friends mooching and him thinking he won't get paid back

although I should ask
do they ever pay you back? (say within a couple days or the next time you see them?)

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Anonymous - "why people in US split the bill in a restaurant? do you actually take the bill around the table and everyone calculates for himself how much he ate/drink? wow"

This generally is exactly how it works here in the US. I'm curious how else it would work. In other countries do they either always do separate checks, or does the bill come and just sit there until someone graciously picks it up and pays for the whole thing? Is there another option I'm missing?

My main pet peeve about not doing separate checks is that I like to tip fairly generously, and when all the money just goes into the pot like that, it usually allows the cheapskate(s) of the group to leave little to no tip without getting noticed. My second pet peeve about it is going out with people who have a different idea of what constitutes "good service" so the amount everyone wants to tip is different. For me, the best service is quick and unobtrusive, but occasionally I go out with people who get upset if the server isn't overly chatty. So then the check comes and I think the server was great because everything came on time with no problems, and they think the server wasn't friendly enough; or the server wants to hang out and talk with us a lot and I end up annoyed that they didn't just get us our food and leave us alone.

Is it time to go home from work yet? :(

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Mate, just in case you haven't had any Aussies living in London say so yet, LOVING the story. For another rareness twist I am, believe it or not, half Dutch. Need any translations done? Happy to help if you do. Given what you've said about Matt though, I'm happy to say more Aussie then Dutch!

Blogger medrawt said...
I advocate for dividing the final total (including tip) by the # of participants. (Depending on the relationship of group size, wallet fatness, and meal expense, I also recommend just picking up the whole thing. Being generous feels good.) I absolutely hate everyone going around and saying "I had X, which was $11.25, but you had Y, which was $13.70". For one thing, I feel like it puts a damper on the end of what was hopefully a pleasant meal; I don't want to think about pocket money when I'm having a good time with my friends. It all evens out over time. (I do routinely make rough adjustments if one person had a notably less expensive meal, or didn't drink anything etc.)

The other problem is that when I was in high school my friends generally did the check on a "pay your own meal" basis, and I somehow magically wound up paying more than my fair share because people aren't that good at sorting out their individual meal and then applying tax and tip. So we'd wind up $5 short, everyone would look unhappily at the pot, and then I'd put another $5 in and everyone would leave happy except me.

And yet even those friends then felt like a table of six ordering separate checks was a little crass, and since I agreed with them (and since at the time I had more spending $ than most of them), what's a guy to do?

It is not, sadly, time to go home from work yet.

Blogger Caleb Smith said...
"And yet even those friends then felt like a table of six ordering separate checks was a little crass"

Crass? I don't see how.

If I'm with friends we always get seperate checks unless its been decided otherwise before hand, or unless someone decides to be generous. Seperate checks solves all the problems mentioned.

Blogger David said...
Ok, this isn't related to living large, but I was wondering if anyone could tell me the name of this form of "defense" -


Blogger Unknown said...
wtf is with your broke-ass mates? You are frikkin 18+, invite your mates out and they expect YOU to pay for their shiz? They've been living at home, NOT going to college (ie assume they are working) and they can't even pony up 5 frikkin bucks?
I don't know why this has made me so irate, but jesus, if they know they're going to eat OUT, can't they hit up they're moms?
I woulda paid my $5, walked straight out with my lady, Hornblower, and left those honkies to start washing some shit up!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
David - Clearly that is Egyptian style defense.

Blogger Unknown said...
ei basketbawful i would like to suggest that you do an article about our national team (team pilipinas) they are really awful. please please

Anonymous Joe said...
The eternal bill debate...

Usually (in the UK) the bill is split between however many people there are but this is often a hassle as some people have cash and others cards etc. Some places add service (usually 12.5%) and I am usually happy to pay it for even approaching bad service.

Sometimes you're supposed to leave it but if this is the case a lot of people say fuck it.

Some people get funny though - and refuse to leave service, or say, "that's too much" and take it, then leave their own, lesser, arbitrary amount.

I.e. a meal costs £400 - the tip would be £50. Some people look at that and say, wow £50... We can't leave that. That annoys the living fuck out of me. If they do, I usually try and leave it myself anyway without them noticing.

I've even insisted on leaving a tip with my own money and had people forcibly remove it and say "that will pay for the next drinks in the pub". How cheap can you get?

If someone's not drinking it's harsh to make them split it evenly, likewise some people always have 3 courses, drink first, supplemental menu, drinks after and someone will just have 2 courses so as long as everyone's cool with it...

I've been for massive family meals where people get the calculator out! Which is insane.

Personally, I like to pay for everything once in a while and this is sometimes reciprocated.

Generally, I make sure I put more than enough in as there is never enough when everyone else does.

When I was in America they're so trustworthy, they keep a tab on your drinks and bring you the bill - yet they appreciated it when I said they'd missed 2-3 rounds off and let me have a couple of free drinks. Service in the US seemed a bit false but then I'd lay it on with a trowel if I was getting those tips guaranteed.

Same in the UK, I'd rather mention they forgot the wine as someone else will get it on their bill later, so best be honest. You did order it after all.

The French have the best system - service is included and being a waiter is a bona fide career. You can leave an extra tip at the end to say thanks but it's not expected.

In the UK most servers are students or people doing it for extra money, as such most service is pretty bad.

I'd also like to point out that, assuming this is all going on in the early 90's (can't remember), $30 plus tip was not just a lot of money for a poor college freshman. It was a small fortune. It probably took you two or three shifts at your campus job just to make that much money.

Anonymous Baguete said...
Here in Brazil we use to split the total bill by the number of people. But even this way, I just hate to split bills because of the tips.

All restaurants charge a 10% service fee but I always tip a little beyond that because the restaurants owners dont give the whole 10% to the waiters. Some people doesnt seem to understand or care for that, so I always end up arguing with someone.

What I use to do with the friends I hang out more is that one guy pays the whole bill. The next time, other guy pays for that, etc. Its been working well for a looooong time with us.

Blogger Cortez said...
Here's the real solution to the bill problem.

...get a better class of friends in the first place!

That way, you don't have to play amateur psychologist/mob enforcer to figure out who's going to pay what at the end of the meal.

If you're sitting there with some twit counting every single penny after a standard meal where he may have ordered the $34 salmon but someone else had the $42 dollar steak then you've made a mistake in judgment in selecting your associates.

On the flip side, if you go out and someone orders a 13 course gourmet meal and a bottle of Dom P while everyone else is eating salad then expects the bill to be split even Steven then you have made the same mental mistake from the first situation.

The blame is on YOU! So therefore you pay the difference and chalk it up as a loss.

Anonymous dunkside said...
I'm with Pound4Pound - how the fuck can you go eat out when your pockets are empty ? Did they EXPECT for someone else to pay for their shit ? And it's not like you were some mogul or like you had a lot of cash and insisted to go to a place they couldn't afford (in which case they should still pay at least part of the bill).

Anonymous Joe said...
Cortez, you can't pick your family!

Excruciating the last time it happened, I walked out.

Blogger Cortez said...
"Cortez, you can't pick your family!"

I beg to differ, kind sir.

Out of my rather large family, I actively associate with maybe 3 people from it.

Some of my outcast relatives do make some attempt to talk to me out of some odd sense of obligation and tradition, I suppose. I simply ignore them as I identified and confirmed their bullshit years ago.

However, among other noteworthy qualities, with my adopted family I certainly don't have to worry about such nonsense.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
It's really weird since this was all discussed yesterday because I had an example of what I was referring to above happen to me just last night. I went out to eat with a friend where I ordered a $17 entree and a lemonade, while she ordered a $22 entree and a soda. When the bill came I noticed they had not charged me for my lemonade, but they'd charged her $2.50 for her soda; so I decided to just leave $3 for the uncharged lemonade on top of my $17 meal, and then contributed $5 tip (so all told I left $25). She said she had no cash and said she'd just take the cash I laid down and put the total on her card, which was fine with me... until I noticed her writing in the tip on the bill, as she decided to leave a $10 tip for the two of us combined. I asked her why she was leaving only a $2 tip on a $25 meal, and she said "I'm leaving the guy 20%." She said she couldn't do the math quick enough to realize how much she needed to leave for herself and was just figuring out what 20% of the whole bill was (and I actually believe her), but after this whole comment thread I was just like "Are you kidding me?!"