You know how the internet is full of those stupid memes? “Have you ever shoplifted?’. “Have you ever skinny-dipped?” “Have you ever kissed a member of the same sex?”. I admire people like Tom who have the time and patience to fill in one of them, because I usually lose interest after the fourth or fifth question.
But as of last night, I feel a new desire to fill one in, especially if it asks the question “Have you ever been to an all-male jelly wrestling competition?”. Because for me, the answer is yes.
Andrew called me on Tuesday night wondering if I was interested in going along. Without even half a thought I said yes. How could you possibly say no to such an invitation. Although, to be frank, I wasn’t really sure what to expect, and good Catholic schoolboy inside me did go “ick” at the thought.
For me, the phrase”jelly wrestling” immediately summons up images of scantily clad women engaging in a pseudo-lesbian experience for the sexist pleasures of a bunch of blokes. I remember vividly going past a pub on New Canterbury Road where they advertised “jelly wrestling” on a Wednesday night and being somewhat perturbed by the thought.
In going along to an all-male jelly wrestling competition I had to struggle with my own conscience. “Was I also being sexist?” “Was I also contributing to exploitation, albeit in a different kind of way?” were the issues I struggled with. Briefly.
When I met Andrew at the pub before-hand, I was still a little unsure about what the night might present us with. As the bar we were at was a favourite bear and leather haunt, I had images in my mind of big beefy blokes writhing about. At worst, I had images in my mind of Homer Simpson-like blokes in a bath-tub full of jelly.
I’m not sure how edible the jelly was, though I did reach in to have a sniff before the action began. “Do you think it’s Port Wine Jelly?”, I asked Andrew, remembering the Cottees Jelly of my childhood.
In the same way that a scientific researcher found the image of Homer Simpson running on a treadmill in his underwear to be “strangely compelling”, this was also how I found the experience of watching the jelly wrestling.
Imagine if you would big beefy blokes with hair all over their backs, including two rugby union playing members of the Sydney Convicts, writhing about in a small pool. By the end of it, they’re both exhausted and completely covered in jelly in all sorts of places. Throughout all of this, I had images in my mind of going to the beach and then coming back home, and when you’re having a shower a lot of sand falls out of your swimwear, and imagining the same thing happening with jelly.
After the event we got talking to a mate of Andrew’s who had competed in the event in previous weeks. “It’s pretty exhausting”, he told us. “It was pretty exhausting watching”, I noted also.
Aside from that, today was nothing extraordinary.